A terrific cast brings on TV one of the greater movies of the year: The Normal Heart.
Directed by Ryan Murphy (Glee show running) it’s a message of intolerance and fear but, most of all, it’s a heartbroken and moving story about the struggles to fight a battle that no one has any interest in seeing through to the end.
Based on the play of the same name by Larry Kramer, who also wrote the screenplay, when the story debuted in 1985 as a stage play was an alarm bell demanding that people pay attention and unresponsive governments fight the epidemic. Now, after the disease it’s been dampened it’s a furious story, demanding that it not be shelved and forgotten or repeated.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 91 percent rating among top critics and a solid 94 percent overall rating, making it one of the most critically acclaimed projects of the year.
As a disaster movie, The Normal Heart opens during the calm before the storm: we are in 1981, on Fire Island, whose habitués are enjoying a weekend of sexual freedom. A couple formed by Broadway star Jonathan Groff (Glee, Frozen, C.O.G) and the stunning Canadian Taylor Kitsch (Lone Survivor, Friday Night Lights, Battleship) is playing with a rugby ball on the beach. Out of the blue Craig (Groff) collapses. As gay cancer spreads, perplexing the medical and gay communities, Ned Weeks (Mark Ruffalo, Hulk, The Avengers), an activist writer meets with Emma Brookner (Julia Roberts, Osage County, Notting Hill, Closer). She is a doctor (based on Dr. Linda Laubenstein) who knows how difficult could be to fight a virus (she is forced into a wheelchair at the age of five years by the polio virus) and she is the first who suspects the cancer is sexually transmitted. But the truth is a medicine that not everyone is willing to swallow: not the national and New York City government, nor leading gay organizations, who have made sexual freedom part of their identity and don’t want to hear a message of abstinence. Weeks (a character inspired by Kramer himself), already made himself unpopular in the gay organizations with a novel that supports the thesis that having so much sex makes finding love impossible (Kramer’s 1978 novel Faggots) and becomes the angry voice of the disease.
To complete the mind-blowing cast alongside Jonathan Groff, Taylor Kitsch, Mark Ruffalo, and Julia Roberts also an unrecognizable (but phenomenal as always) Matt Bomer (White Collar) as Weeks love, Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory) and Alfred Molina (Red, Chocolate, An Education) as Weeks brother.
“Where’s this big mouth I hear you’ve got?”
“Is big mouth a symptom?”
“No,” she says. “It’s the cure.”