The Normal Heart:
Bad title. Worse movie.
I entered my teen years during the 1980’s when I first heard about a horrible disease that was killing gay men in big U.S. cities. It dominated the nightly news and caused fear and homophobia - including my own which, thankfully, went away over time. For that reason, I was very interested in seeing The Normal Heart thinking, “How could it be bad?”. Well, it was.
The protagonist is Ned Weekly, a loud mouth, self absorbed jerk. He is a middle aged gay man who wishes he was still in his prime during the pre-AIDS gay sexual revolution. Then GRID/HIV/AIDS hits and everyone’s world falls apart. Sadly, so does the movie.
I understand The Normal Heart was a play before it was a movie. Unfortunately, it still has that “play” feel. The movie jumps from big scene to big scene and every character has their own meltdown and big speech while others look on. The writing is melodramatic and over the top. While the acting is first rate (Mark Ruffalo is terrific, as is a surprisingly good Jim Parsons), everything feels forced and contrived - the worst of which is the scene where a polio afflicted Julia Roberts tells off uncaring government officials as they smirk.
If you really want to see a terrific movie about AIDS and the 80’s, rent the great “And The Band Played On”. That film is everything this film is not and is one of the best things HBO has ever done.
Anyway, don’t believe the reviews. The Human Heart is a waste of time and film.