DRAMA; 1hr 57min
STARRING: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto
Walking tall: McConaughey
Expanding his getting-real Magic Mike and Mud run, McConaughey rips into the role of Dallas electrician Ron Woodroof. In 1985, the hard-livin’, foul-cussin’ cowboy is informed by his doctors (Garner is compassionate immunologist Eve Saks) that he has contracted the HIV virus and has 30 days to put his affairs, such as they are, in order. Although in furious denial at first, rapier-brained Ron does his homework and concludes that cutting-edge, largely unavailable meds are his sole survival prayer. And so it is that the tinderbox homophobe blindsides conventional medicine by going hand-in-glove with sass-mouthed trannie Rayon (Leto, just magic) to peddle his alternative wares to a growing band of fellow sufferers. He would live for seven more years, entirely on his own terms.
An anti-establishment rogue element with the balls to chart a divergent course is always a nose-thumbing high — especially given that Ron’s story is based on actual events. McConaughey is a magnet throughout and director Jean-Marc Vallée (The Young Victoria) is happy to hang in there, flourish-free, and let him go and go. And that’s a mighty good call: the ferret-skinny star isn’t always a pretty sight here, but his career choices have never looked better.