The Normal Heart (2014) Film Review: A Gut-Wrenching Look At the 80’s Hidden AIDS Epidemic



An emotionally heart-wrenching look at the hidden disease, that is AIDS.

Image: HBO
Ryan Murphy, the genius behind American Horror Story and the guy who continually cops flak over the current state of Glee has really brought it with HBO’s latest film outing ‘The Normal Heart’.
Set in the 80’s when homosexuals were worse of then today (in which the struggle continues to this very day). Classified in the film as the invisible inidivuals of society, it really explores their struggle like never before. To think about do we ever still hear much about AIDS? It seems as if it is still invisible. We watch as Ned played by Mark Ruffalo, desperately try to make the government get of their asses to shine the light on the AIDS outbreak and gain recognition on the gay community. 
As Jim Parsons (yes, The Big Bang Theory‘s Sheldon) says in a powerfully memorable scene “they just don’t like us”. Right on Jim! I also found it kind of funny to hear Jim step out of the famous nerd role he is recognised for and actually swear on numerous occasions throughout the film.
While based on public health advocate Larry Kramer’s autobiographical screenplay of the same name,  the film is ruthless on realism. It’s no corny happy ending sort of flick, so don’t go in expecting a good ol’ gay time. It’s deep and powerful as it brings to light the trauma and ugliness of suffering with AIDS.
Matt Bomer surprisingly shines in the film as Ned’s lover Felix, along with Ned’s brother played by the excellent Alfred Molina who truly captures the brother trying to accept his brother being gay. Julia Roberts is also superb here as the paralysed doctor Emma Brookner who is among the rare survivors of other life-threatening epidemic, polio. In a hilarious scene with Julia’s character, she tells the gay community to give up sex in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Yeah.. sure doctor, like that’s gonna happen.

Julia Roberts as the sincere and heartful Doctor Emma Brookner.

In pure HBO style, The Normal Heart is bold and unafraid of getting into the down-right grittiness of it all. Yes, if you are a prude there are a number of explicit sex scenes, complete with a raunchy nude beach opening montage. The portrayal although is fitting and unique as it really gives an insight into the  issue, rather than a cardboard cover-up insight.

Also make sure you have the tissue box nearby, as there are plenty of heart-felt emotional scenes that will put on some waterworks. If you don’t end up crying or at least feeling sympathy for the characters, your probably not human.
Overall Rating:
8/10
Watch the trailer for the HBO film below:

– Shahbaz Malik

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