Let me just start off by saying that this film absolutely gutted me. I had so many feelings that I went to take a bath and contemplated what I had just witnessed. I will never understand what it was like to have lived during the early onset of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s, but The Normal Heart damn sure painted a heartbreaking picture of it.
Mark Ruffalo stars as Ned Weeks, a character loosely based on Larry Kramer, the writer of the original seminal, award winning play who adapted his own work for this television production. After seeing reports of “gay cancer,” he goes in for a check-up and meets with Dr. Emma Brookner, brilliantly played by powerhouse actress Julia Roberts. Despite the fact that her role seems a bit typecast, she packs an angsty punch while the other characters are grappling with the confusion and uncertainty around them.
Ned eventually recruits a bunch of his friends, most notably Taylor Kitsch‘s local lothario Bruce Niles (which is also his best work to date.) Together, they fight the good fight, press on and attempt to help their community when the government basically waves a “we could give a flying fuck less about you” flag in their faces. Eventually, Matt Bomer‘s Felix Turner crosses paths with Ned and the ensuing romance is something out of a Shakespearean tragedy.
Without giving the whole film away, the performances in The Normal Heart were above and beyond. It had almost one million viewers for its original airing and currently ranks fifth out of seventeen of the most watched movies on HBO since 2010. Aside from that, I particularly liked how a majority of the cast was actually of the LGBT community: Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare and Joe Mantello are all out gay actors with roles in this production. And how they highlighted that our lesbian sisters were among the first allies with us in the battle against this vicious disease.
But, it doesn’t wrap everything up somewhere over a beautiful rainbow. It captures the panic, the grief, and the heartbreak during this time. My biggest thing is, that I hope my generation doesn’t walk away from watching this movie thinking that HIV/AIDS is something in the past. That you can just fuck around without protection. We may have won the battle per se, but there still isn’t a cure… we haven’t won the war.
Here are some local facilities to assist you in King County:
– Gay City Health Project
– Lifelong AIDS Alliance
– Project NEON/Seattle Counseling Service
Here are some local facilities to assist you in Pierce & Thurston County: