Normal Heart, The


Though my relationship with Ryan Murphy has soured since some time during the airing of the second season of Glee, I do have a nostalgic soft spot for him because he brought Popular into my life, along the use of “Gwynethness” into my vocabulary. Plus, what’s not to love about Mark Ruffalo?

Unlike much of the stuff Murphy does, The Normal Heart is a serious HBO TV Movie based on the 1985 play of the same name by Larry Kramer, who is adapting his work to screen, about the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City between 1981 and 1984, as seen through the eyes of Ned Weeks (Ruffalo), the founder of a prominent HIV advocacy group, who sees his friends and lover — Felix (Matt Bomer) — die one by one as the government refuses the existence of a public health crisis. If you knew anything about this period in LGBT history, you know the 80s was grim not-at-all the happy-go-lucky nostalgic childhood that we have.

Through all the pain and exasperation, preferring loud and public confrontation, Ned also deals with the power struggle within the advocacy group when pretty boy Bruce Niles (Taylor Kitsch) is voted to be the spokesman during this tough period, and his brother’s (Alfred Molina) nonchalant non-acceptance.

Also, Julia Roberts is in there in between as Dr. Emma Brookner trying to do as much research as she can on the new disease while being a tough cookie.

While Murphy’s skills as a director are noticeable, making this TV Movie look like a plain TV Movie considering HBO’s standards, bringing the play onto the idiot box is still a commendable feature. Though the script does an able job building a strong relationship between Ned and Felix, the rest of the ensemble suffers a lot, leaving little to do for even the big names like Roberts and Molina. I don’t even know how they nabbed so many supporting role nods for the Emmys. I’m kidding, I know- it’s HBO campaigning, of course they have money!

However, I’m not gonna lie, the strongest point in The Normal Heart is its acting, with both Ruffalo and Bomer playing their parts with much warmth and conviction, showing us the devastating helplessness of seeing Bomer’s Felix become less of the man he was and Ned’s inability to do anything. It’s heartfelt and it’s important, just like La Otra Familia should be to Latin American families, I just don’t know if it was a good fit for the HBO brand.

Do yourself a favor and do end up watching the 2011 documentary We Were Here.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 


YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

4 Responses

  1. Rodrigo says:

    “I just don’t know if it was a good fit for the HBO brand”

    If HBO releases an LGBT film by May 2015, they might have a LGBT trilogy, I guess.

    Haven’t seen this one yet, but I lol’d at every supporting actor from TNH minus Taylor Kitsch getting Emmy noms. Then again, I didn’t liked him in his 2012 film run (Battleship, John Carter and Savages).

    • amy says:

      @Rodrigo, I thought HBO was supposed to be edgy and stuff, that’s why I said it. Though this one obviously has some money into it, it would go decently with Prayers for Bobby as a double feature. And that was Lifetime, if I’m not mistaken!

      I didn’t mind Kitsch (I have the hardest time saying his name) in John Carter, but I heard the whole thing in Friday Night Lights is supposed to be good. And then I just kept seeing Sheldon in there.

      • Rodrigo says:

        @amy, There must be some sort of difference between how much control HBO has over their TV shows compared to how much they have over their TV films in terms of violence and nudity as well as trying to please some of their actors depending on the project involved.

  1. August 21, 2014

    […] The Normal Heart will premiere on HBO in the USA on May 25, 2014 in order to be eligible for the upcoming Emmy Awards. […]

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