For about four years now, I’ve been a member of Vitanovus, a local group who provides counseling, information, rapid HIV tests, medical reference and general support to people diagnosed with HIV, as well as their partners, relatives, friends, etc. I’ve learned so much about the pandemia thanks to this group, especially by means of the translations that I’ve done for the bulletin.
Vitanovus members meet every two weeks to attend interesting lectures and talks imparted by psychologists, physicians, noted community members, and HIV-AIDS activists, as well as people who have lived with the virus for decades. They are invited to share their experience and give valuable advice to those who have been just diagnosed.
But not all is serious talks -- sometimes it’s movie time. And the movie that we saw yesterday was Dallas Buyers Club, based on a true story and featuring Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, and Jennifer Garner. What a great film, indeed. Set in the 80’s, it tells the story of Ron Woodroof, a homophobic electrician who only cares for rodeos, booze, casual, unprotected sex with women, and drugs. He lives the moment and doesn’t seem to have a plan for the future.
Ron doesn’t look very well. He’s remarkably thin, looks tired, and coughs a lot. One day at the rodeo he organizes a bet and collects the money from his friends, then runs away with the angry cowboys close behind. There’s a fight and his policeman friend unwillingly rescues him and takes him home. Once inside he starts to feel dizzier and dizzier, passes out and falls to the floor.
The next day there’s an accident at his job, he runs to cut the power and somehow he passes out again. The doctors run tests at the hospital and tell him rather bluntly that he tested HIV positive, is in AIDS phase and has no more than 30 days of life.
He’s baffled, speechless, but Ron Woodroof won’t accept that life sentence. Literal.
What I loved about the movie was his courage and determination to live, his sudden urge of learning all about that enemy that threatens his existence, in order to keep it at bay and hopefully conquer it. In the process, he gets rich, travels, takes a better care of himself, and learns that HIV-AIDS is not exclusive of gay people and, as an almost inevitable consequence of this, he learns to be tolerant. I just loved the film.