What would you do if doctors gave you 30 days to live? That’s the dilemma facing Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) in this ’80s-set AIDS drama.
But this is no Bucket List and we’re a long way from Philadelphia. Indeed, the first 60 minutes resembles one of those ’70s Jack Nicholson films where the characters drink, swear and screw while life swirls heedlessly around them.
A scratchy son-of-a-bitch with sand-blasted vocal chords, colossal appetites and all manner of racist, reductive opinions, Woodroof is roaringly alive, although in his case it’s not a compliment – perhaps howlingly alive is nearer the mark.
Director Jean-Marc Vallée (The Young Victoria) keeps this choppy rhythm going throughout so we never relax into the movie, just as Woodroof never relents, cycling through denial, terror – even praying – before wresting control of his treatment from the cynical Sevard and the more sympathetic Dr Saks (Jennifer Garner).
If not wholly convincing as an ‘issues’ m...