Based on the true story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), an electrician and rodeo-gambling fixer. In 1985, Woodroof is diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes Aids, and is given 30 days to live. He meets another Aids patient, the transgender Rayon (Jared Leto, both above). With Rayon's help, he becomes a medical entrepreneur and an activist.
Wins by McConaughey and Leto at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last week, for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively, make it all but certain that the pair will also go home with Oscars in the same categories. And this work does find most of its heart, humour and charm through their performances.
Leto is especially pivotal. His Rayon stays away from portrayals of the transgendered person as loud drag queen or bitchy comic-relief. Wan and painfully vulnerable, Rayon humanises the redneck folk hero Woodroof. Leto is mesmerising to watch and the bickering between his character and McConaughey's is by turns sad and very funny.
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