Deola’s Corner: ‘The Normal Heart’ Movie Review

Deola’s Corner: ‘The Normal Heart’ Movie Review

So after months of postponing, I finally got the movie, The Normal Heart, and settled down to watch it. The Normal Heart is a TV movie that aired on HBO more than a year ago. I had seen trailers and read countless reviews, but nothing really prepares you for how this movie will leave you feeling. The Normal Heart is directed by Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story, Scream Queens) and features an ensemble cast of Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Taylor Kitsch, Jonathan Groff, Alfred Molina and Joe Mantello. It is based on the stage play of the same name by Larry Kramer. It’s about the HIV/AIDS epidemic amongst gay people in New York in the 1980s.The Normal Heart 09

We see the events of the movie largely through the eyes of the writer and activist Ned Weeks (played by Mark Ruffalo). The movie opens with a party on Fire Island, and this is as light-hearted as the movie ever gets. We get a sense of community from this opening scene and it’s wonderful.

Things quickly begin to get serious and intense from there as the ‘Gay Cancer’ starts building momentum and Ned’s friends from that lively party on Fire Island start dying. First off is Jonathan Groff’s character, who seemed to be in good health until he wasn’t. Something was killing the gay men in the city and they had no idea what it was.

Ned Weeks meets with Dr Emma Brookner (Julia Roberts), a polio survivor who is wheelchair-bound; what she does know about the disease is that it’s most likely sexually transmitted and only seems to affect gay men, and so she asks him to help her raise awareness for this disease that seems to be affecting the immune system of gay men, thus leaving them susceptible to diseases that their immune system should normally be fighting off. They organize a meeting in which she tries to get the gay community into a program of abstinence. The gay men weren’t having it, as it meant going backwards and meant their long and hard fight for sexual freedom would have been for naught.

Weeks does what he can; he helps form the Gay Men’s Health Crisis center. They never seem to get the progress they want though, as his methods and idea for awareness doesn’t sit well with most of the other members, who want their privacy. Weeks’ perspective is that this is an epidemic, which the government and potential victims should do everything they can do to stop.

This causes a lot of friction and no doubt hampers their goals for more awareness and thus more funding for their organization, and also funding for research into the epidemic.

The Normal Heart is grounded by the love story at the center of it all – the budding romance between Ned Weeks and Matt Bomer’s Felix Turner. It’s beautifully written and well portrayed by both Bomer and Ruffalo. Felix’s fate when he later gets infected and slowly deteriorates is heartbreaking and honestly disturbing to watch. This is largely due to the large amount of weight Matt Bomer dropped to effectively portray Felix’s declining health. Felix’s situation is no doubt responsible for what spurs Ned’s crusade even more so than before, to get the word out there.The Normal Heart 07

Their relationship and struggles as they deal with Felix’s health, not knowing if kissing each other will infect the other, is wonderfully if hauntingly depicted. I am always deeply appreciative when an actor completely immerses himself into a role, and these two actors did just that. The result was something beautiful.

The supporting players, Jim Parsons, Taylor Kitsch, Alfred Molina, all hold their own. I was particularly surprised by Parsons, who is popularly known for playing Sheldon Cooper on the TV sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. I had always seen him as a comedic actor, and to my delight, he was the MVP of the movie here. This is epitomized in a scene where he gives a eulogy at a friend’s funeral, and as Parsons’ character broke down, my heart broke.

The Normal Heart is angry and furious, and isn’t apologetic about this. In one of the movie’s best scenes, Julia Roberts’ Dr Emma Brookner is giving a presentation about the disease and her research about it; she needs funding and is being denied, and it is absolutely brilliant how she gives them a piece of her mind.The Normal Heart 08

The Normal Heart is littered with incredible performances, a great screenplay capped with wonderful direction. It’s in-your-face with the ugly truths, about how history turned a blind eye to the epidemic. It makes for a hard and sometimes uncomfortable viewing, but it’s a necessary one, as it educates on how the LGBT community started. It tells us to appreciate how far we’ve come and shines a wonderful light into how great the future can be.

Rating: 9/10 – One of the best total cast performances I have ever seen, each actor was incredible, some more surprising than others, Kitsch and Parsons in particular. What Murphy and Co have created here is a wonderful and necessary movie that’s going to be timeless.

Written by Deola

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26 Comments

  1. Max
    November 19, 06:30 Reply

    Left me in tears when I watched it too.
    Pretty amazing movie.

  2. Duke
    November 19, 06:32 Reply

    When I got to see the movie, it was one of a few movies I watched straight in one sitting ( I have this weird habit of dozing off or watching movies in cuts just to take every part of it in). I loved it. It was fast-paced, the cinematography was on point, no unnecessary dialogue, I love how the community was depicted as a tight friendly “we know each other anywhere” family. They knew the chef, writer, editor, government person etc that was gay. It was quite revealing and emotional. I loved it, totally worth a 9 star.

  3. Brian Collins
    November 19, 07:35 Reply

    Going off to look for it. I do really need to see more gay themed novies . I haven’t even seen Brokeback Mountain yet.

    • Deola
      November 19, 08:00 Reply

      E dey happen like that.
      I also didnt see brokeback mountain until early this year.

      • Max
        November 19, 09:04 Reply

        You didn’t see BBM till this year? ???

      • DeadlyDarius
        November 19, 09:32 Reply

        *shocked* It also took me a few years to watch it. Its even more brilliant than The Normal Heart…a hair breadth away better

        • Max
          November 19, 10:11 Reply

          If you know Deola, you’ll know why I’m shocked. Dude is a database of info.

          • Deola
            November 19, 10:29 Reply

            I am only human afterall. ?

  4. DeadlyDarius
    November 19, 07:37 Reply

    Fantastic movie….absolutely brilliant and worth every Emmy and Golden Globe it won

  5. Mandy
    November 19, 07:42 Reply

    The movie is fantastic. Absolutely fantastic! And the acting — Oh my God! Everyone was on their A-game. That Julia Roberts scene where she roundly chastised those bureucrats had me rewinding and rewinding just to soak in the beauty of her performance.

  6. Henrie
    November 19, 08:06 Reply

    Someday he’ll come along
    The man I love
    And he’ll be big and strong
    The man I love
    And when he comes my way
    I’ll do my best to make him stay
    He’ll look at me and smile
    I’ll understand
    Then in a little while
    He’ll take my hand
    And though it seems absurd
    I know we both won’t say a word
    Maybe I shall meet him Sunday
    Maybe Monday, maybe not
    Still I’m sure to meet him one day
    Maybe Tuesday will be my good news day
    He’ll build a little home
    That’s meant for two
    From which I’ll never roam
    Who would, would you
    And so all else above
    I’m dreaming of the man I love

    • DeadlyDarius
      November 19, 09:30 Reply

      During the headier times of their relationship *sigh*

  7. bruno
    November 19, 08:14 Reply

    god i hate these tearjerkers. real life is sad enough as it is.

    • Max
      November 19, 09:06 Reply

      Go away.. Leave us to shed our tears in peace.

  8. Stranger
    November 19, 09:41 Reply

    One of my fave movies ever. You hit all the right notes with the review. Parson was spectacular. And Julia was amazingly fierce. And then Mark and Matt were splendid. Brilliant!!

  9. Khaleesi
    November 19, 10:22 Reply

    Wow Deola, for the first time i can actually see the essence of this series … before now, i couldnt figure out why there was a need to post reviews of shows and movies which didnt do anything other than slightly entertain a few people, but today you have pointed us in the direction of a movie from which we can learn a lot that’ll be useful to us … So, THANK YOU …. ****Runs off to go download The Normal Heart****

    • Mandy
      November 19, 10:36 Reply

      Becos you saw that it’s a gay-themed film he reviewed, suddenly the series makes sense to you, abi?

  10. Sinnex
    November 19, 10:38 Reply

    …another addition to my to watch list.

    • Max
      November 19, 11:40 Reply

      Yeah, right next to Oge Okoye and Ebube Nwagbo/Patience Ozokwor movie titles.
      ?

      • Sinnex
        November 19, 14:43 Reply

        Very funny….I forgot to laugh.

  11. Chizzie
    November 19, 12:23 Reply

    I’d like to watch it. But you should be able to review a movie without telling us what actually happened and revealing that many spoilers. There’s a way its done. Take a note from the folks at Rotten Tomatoes and co

  12. Dickson Clement
    November 19, 20:52 Reply

    Tears! Hot tear all over my eyes as I watched the movie today! I got scared not because of HIV but because I have not and may not feel the kind of love displayed on that movie. Julia Robert was on point, believable!! I was all emotional… during the short wedding at the hospital!

  13. Francis
    November 20, 06:33 Reply

    I think i had seen way too many HIV related gay themed movies to be moved by the Normal Heart when i saw it a week after it dropped. It felt like a rehash of all the ones i had watched. Nevertheless it was good sha.

  14. Eddie
    November 21, 16:46 Reply

    Who’s seen Philadelphia starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington…. also a cool movie based on HIV/AiDS activism and gay men in Philadelphia

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