Monday, May 26, 2014

The New Normal (Television Review: The Normal Heart)

Thank God for DVR.  The television movie version of "The Normal Heart" was such an emotional watch for me that I had to stop it a couple of times. It really is tough to relive a painful part of history, especially for me because, for a good part, I was there. The movie version of "The Normal Heart" is finally here, and thank God for that. I think this is a very important story to tell, and I suspect that there will be a lot of people who will see this. Larry Kramer wrote the screenplay from his play which tells the story of Ned Weeks (which is basically Kramer himself) who was one of the spearheaders for the fight for AIDS recognition. He does a good job of "opening up" the play. Ryan Murphy directs it with restraint, without the camp of Glee or American Horror Story. His pacing s a bit rushed, which would work well with the MTV generation. I wish it had lingered a little bit on some parts to fully savour them, but I do understand what he needed to do, and achieved. Mark Ruffalo is fantastic as Weeks, and he even managed to get some of Kramer's tics and mannerisms. But he is such a charismatic actor that sometimes don't see the brittleness of the Weeks character.Matt Bomer, as Felix Turner, is getting much-deserved raves - he injects a lot of humanity in hsi character, and his physical transformation is jarring. I bet he gets at the very least an Emmy nomination. Julia Roberts is a little too "Julia Roberts" at times, and at first I thought she had unease, but I warmed up to her eventually. (I am on that small list of people who didn't like Ellen Barkin's screechy performance on the last revival) I also have to give props to Jim Parson's subtle performance. In a movie of highlight after highlight, he gave a more subtle performance compared to the rest of the crew. I have some quibbles with the film, but I have to admit I shed tears - a lot of them. This is a piece that still resonates, still connects, and still slays. I had this imaginary vision of reimagining the movie had it been directed by Barbra Streisand, but i shouldn't have. Ryan Murphy did a great job, and will be applauded come awards season time. 

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