Movie Review: The Normal Heart [2014]

The Normal Heart is HBO's new TV movie, directed by Ryan Murphy. It gives a dramatic look at New York gay community during early 80's, when AIDS started killing people, and mostly gay men. It is simply a story of fear, ignorance, informational vacuum, heroism and love. Along with this heartbreaking piece of history, this movie suggest a huge, brilliant cast, including Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks, Matt Bomer as his love Felix Turner, Taylor Kitsch as Bruce Niles,  Jim Parsons as Tommy Boatwight and Julia Roberts as Dr. Emma Brookner - the only person who has enough courage to help those dying young men.

Movie opens with sunny beach and dozens of gay men having fun they way any person would have fun on a sunny day, until one of their friends Craig (Jonathan Groff) suddenly collapses. This is where it starts, how they discover that they might be ill and that they are infecting each other. Then we are introduced to Dr. Brookner - a woman in wheelchair who tries her best to study the disease and help her patients, warning everyone to stop having sex. 

The more people die, the bigger panic grows and Ned Weeks turns out to be the guy who decides to speak up about what's going on. First thing he does is asks for help from government, instead of massive ignorance and zero assistance. However, all doors are closed. The only way to make this work is to accuse government in murder of gay men on purpose and here Ned starts a huge war, not only against officials but also against closeted gays, who are dying just because they are silent. 

The Normal Heart is brilliant for so many reasons. Most of all, for its incredible story, that was adapted from the play of same name. It is a genuine portrayal of everything we have or we have not heard about AIDS epidemic and suffer of gay people. This had been a lot more dramatic and deadly than it's now. Characters are built in such a way that they deliver a-two-hour pain, despair and fear.

Many characters die very quickly, almost every other minute, before we get to know them. At some point, it weakens emotional impact of losing them. It seems, Murphy wanted to demonstrate that society did not care much about these people back in past. But in the end, we see that almost everyone is gone and it immediately makes us sad, but it is too late. Our condolences in the end is as late as government's attempts in middle 80's when there were fewer people fighting.

All actors do brilliant job here, but especially Mark Ruffalo, who lets us know fear and despair, courage and stubbornness his character has. He perfectly delivers how horrible it was to be a gay man losing friends, boyfriend and community members one by one, day by day. How vital and terrifying it was to stand against government, people and stereotypes and make a lot closeted homosexuals come out, scream. Julia Roberts is also great as a disabled doctor, who sacrifices everything to save these men. Her character is a strong woman, who had lived through similar troubles for her whole live and now watching people dying on her table, in her hands and she can not help and there is nothing she can do about this.

Other notably good, award worthy performances include Jim ParsonsJoe Mantello and Matt Bomer, who lost 40 pounds for movie. He is the one dying for longest time in film and therefore he mirrors whole pain, fear of death and hopelessness of other characters and probably each of 36 million AIDS victims.

It may seem that messages Murphy tries to send, are outdated, since AIDS is not uncontrolled, panicking disease anymore. It maybe true, but is is also important to remind ourselves what we have forgotten, that so many people turned into ghosts because of our ignorance and they were not supposed to be ghosts. 


  1. Beka SukhitashviliMay 29, 2014, 10:59:00 PM

    I'm in love with Matt Bomer! He and Julia Roberts did brillian performance.

  2. Yeah, they both were great.