I have this tradition. It’s something I do now when a friend dies. I save his Rolodex card. What am I supposed to do? Throw it away in the trash can? I won’t do that. No, I won’t. That’s too final. Last year I had five cards. No I have fifty. A collection of cardboard tombstones, bound together with a rubber band. I hate these fucking funerals. I really do. And you know what else I hate? I hate the memorials. That’s our social life now. Going to these things.
HIV/AIDS these days is almost unheard of, depending on your social circles that is, we all know people who know people who have known people from the 80’s/90’s that passed away due to the nasty disease and no doubt we have all seen movies or read books that explore the terrible illness as well. It has touched my life personally as well, as I had a few friends diagnosed in the 90’s and it is something that has always put fear in my heart. With the education and knowledge surrounding the disease now though we are a lot further advanced when it comes to how to handle those who have caught or are living with the dreaded disease. One thing we have never seen before though is the brutality that came with it, especially when it was first discovered. The Normal Heart is a work of fiction bought to life as a TV movie by the same writer who penned the stage version in 1985 Larry Kramer, add to the mix TV director Ryan Murphy of Glee and American Horror Story fame and the two bring forth a film version of the play.
Summer of 1981, Ned Weeks is a loud opinionated outspoken New York writer who arrives at Fire Island to celebrate the birthday of his long-time friend Mike’s partner Craig. Ned is an openly gay guy which is almost unheard of amongst his social groups, most of his friends are closeted for family or work reason, the party is filled with guys he has known throughout the years. Ned’s friend Micky who is dating Craig decide to go for a walk along the beach suddenly Craig feels dizzy and collapses. Later in the afternoon Craig is ready to blow out his birthday candles and suddenly begins to cough uncontrollably. Back in New York City Ned after reading an article about the new disease that seems to be killing off gay men meets up with Dr Emma Brookner who is doing her best to raise awareness about this new disease that only appears to be affecting the gay men of New York. Ned organises a gathering at his home and invites every gay man he can to help educate them and spread the word. From the meeting, Ned and a few friends form a Community Group calling themselves Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) where they help other men who are suffering or know of others suffering with a call centre and general advice…
The performances from this TV movie are outstanding, Ned Weeks is a man you loathe due to his arrogance and loud mouth but he is played brilliantly by Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind) Matt Bomer’s (White Collar, In Time) transformation has to be seen to be believed as his body slowly deteriorates within the three years the film takes place over. With one of her finest performances to date in my opinion Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman, Eat Pray Love) excels as Dr Emma Brookner. Also starring Jim Parsons, Alfred Molina, Taylor Kitsch and a whole heap of others. I felt the performances by everyone were amazing, a rare opportunity to say the cast was chosen perfectly. Ryan Murphy has done a great job with the film, nothing too fancy more letting the actors star and deliver their lines the way it should be.
It’s a very heavy film; some scenes are very distressing and no doubt most will need the tissues handy. A great film that tells how things were in the beginning of the AIDS crisis that struck the world without ever apologising for its brutality and heavy delivery. I feel like there is a lot more more I should say about the film but in doing so will give away too much. Well worth watching even though it is a little longer than I feel it needs to be.