The Normal Heart (2014) – Ryan Murphy

 

There’s a complete naturalness to everything Mark Ruffalo does on-screen, and he brings that to the brilliant Emmy-nominated The Normal Heart, available today on Blu-Ray and DVD from HBO. I’ve been a fan of Ruffalo’s for a while, and I simply love how he throws himself completely into each role, and the way he brings his characters to life, this time is no different.

In a simply stunning, moving and beautiful adaptation of the play by Larry Kramer, which he adapted to a screenplay, the film chronicles the early 80s, when the first recorded occurrences of the AIDs virus began to surface in New York amongst the gay community. Leading the charge, is Ned Weeks (Ruffalo), an outspoken gay activist, who may have found the love of his life in Felix Turner (Matt Bomer).

Hearing news of what was being referred to as Gay Cancer, Weeks turns to a doctor, Emma Brookner (Julia Roberts), and they along with the rest of the homosexual community quickly find themselves in an epidemic, one that is ignored by the media, and governing bodies.

In turns heartbreaking and infuriating, Murphy’s film deserves the acclaim and the attention its been given, as it shares a piece of relatively recent history that many may not even by aware of.

Coupled with this strong story are some powerhouse performances, many of whom, like Ruffalo are nominated for an Emmy this year. There’s Taylor Kitsch as, Bruce Niles, the public face of a group Weeks helped to form, Jim Parsons as Tommy Boatwright, whose story about rolodex cards is tearful, and Alfred Molina as Ben, Ned’s brother.

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Coupled with a behind the scenes look at the making of the movie, featuring interviews and the true story that inspired the play and film, the disc is simply gorgeous. The picture is sharp and vivid, and brings the early days of the 80s back to life, with a familiar cache of 80s tunes.

There isn’t a missed moment, or beat in the entire film, and I’m looking forward to digging into the original play which HBO was kind enough to send in book form to me. I can’t wait to read it, but the performances in this adaptation, the look of it, the feel of it, is unparalleled, and simply beautiful to look at.

HBO has made a critically approved name for themselves with their series and films, and this one is a rightfully proud addition to its high standards. Important subject matter, fantastic characterization, strong production values, and the willingness to tell the story.

A brilliant piece that deserves the recognition.

The Normal Heart is available from HBO today on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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