Let me start by saying that I'm possibly the queen when it comes to hard to watch movies. I watch all of them without a flinch or a hint of disgust, well except Cannibal Holocaust, that still is the top 1 on my list on account of the real animal abuse which I skipped watching (I hope they suffer horrible deaths for doing something like that). But, The Normal Heart just replaced A Serbian Film on my top 2. And if you know of the movies I just named, I'm sure you will be shocked to see that I am mentioning The Normal Heart in the same sentence with A Serbian Film and Cannibal Holocaust, but keep reading. I'll try to do my best to explain my reasons.
The disgust that these movies made me feel are of course different than the disgust I felt watching The Normal Heart. But to me it was one of the hardest movies to watch. I've wanted it to end and then at the same time I didn't want it to end. It's really difficult to explain.
This is NOT a bad thing by the way. I know what I said in the above paragraphs sound like I hated the movie and I thought it was horrible. But it's actually just the opposite. I LOVED the movie and I think it's one of the BEST movies I have ever watched (of all time)! The Normal Heart is definitely among the best acted, best written and best directed movies of all time!
Now, why the hell would I ever be mentioning The Normal Heart with those hardcore movies? How can this movie be disgusting? I am pretty sure you are asking these questions right now. Well, first let's talk a little bit about the plot of the movie. Then maybe and hopefully you will understand! I'm actually hoping for your sake that you will understand; cause if not, there might be something wrong with you.
The Normal Heart tells the story of Ned Weeks (Mark Ruffalo) who is a gay activist, fighting against any obstacles you can imagine in order to raise awareness for AIDS, a disease that has just started to emerge and rapidly became an epidemic affecting and killing a lot of people. The story takes place in the early 1980s, back when medicine had no idea what this disease was, how anyone could come into contact with it, or how anyone could get infected by the virus. They didn't even have tests to find out if someone was infected. They would only know from the lesions on the body.
The disease quickly becomes an epidemic among gay men and the majority of them starts dying. Losing friend after friend, Ned tries to do anything he can to make the government aware of the disease and get them to work on a possible cure. Disgusting thing number 1, the government doesn't care. They don't even address the issue. What's even more disgusting is that, as it is hinted in the movie, there are a lot of closeted gays within the government and they don't want their names exposed so everyone decides to be blind to this very serious issue. Can you believe in a government that would close its eyes to its very own people dying and not doing anything about it? Can you think of something more horrifying than that? Human lives shouldn't be that expendable...
But there is one person who is trying to help them. Dr. Brookner (Julia Roberts) is a specialist who is trying to diagnose and help these men to the best of her abilities. She applies to the government over and over again to get funding in order to research the disease further more and look for a possible cure. Her attempts, just like the attempts of gay activists, are completely ignored for 3 whole years during which A LOT of people already died as you can imagine, until the government decides to provide funding. But it's such a comical number that you can't even get anything done. Not to mention they refuse to collaborate with the French who actually designed an experimental drug to fight off the disease. This has to be disgusting thing number 2.
All these times, the infected men in quarantine wards do not receive their meals because the hospital staff is afraid of entering their rooms even with protective gears. Their TVs aren't working and the repairman also refuses to fix them. Their bodies don't even get examined, their death certificates remain blank because noone wants to lay a finger on them. They are taken out in trash bags, with the other trash. I wanna vomit just writing these things. Let's call this; disgusting thing number 3.
Like all this treatment from other people is not enough, they don't even get support from their own families. In Ned's case, even his brother refuses to acknowledge that he and Ned are just the same. It can't get any worse than that! Ned's brother actually sees himself as the bigger and the better person because Ned is gay and he is straight. This HAS to frustrate you! Come on! Don't tell me you still don't feel anything after reading what I had to say up to this point.
The cast did a wonderful job in The Normal Heart. It is one of those rare movies you will NEVER feel disappointed by an actor's performance. I really loved Mark Rufallo as the lead. I think his performance was the best in his career and everytime he cried out for help, the desperation in his voice made me feel like I was being stabbed in the heart over and over again. Just like Mark Ruffalo, the whole cast from Julia Roberts to Taylor Kitsch have all been magnificent. But the real stand outs for me were Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons and Joe Mantello. If you are a fan of The Big Bang Theory, you will really enjoy Jim Parson's performance as he finally got a chance to show how versatile he really is as an actor. As for Joe Mantello, I really hate him right now! I hate him for making me cry. I hate him for making me feel this emotional which is something new to me when it comes to watching movies so I don't even know how to deal with it. If you don't feel anything by his stunning monologue about 2 hours into the movie, I suggest you to get your emotions checked. As for me? I tried to hold on until then, fighting back the tears. But when that scene hit me like a truck, I was like "Well f.ck it, there it goes" and just let the tears out which I have been building up almost ever since the start of the movie.
But, Matt Bomer. Oh, Matt Bomer! It was one of the most raw performances you can ever see from an actor. I still can't get some of his scenes out of my mind and I'm sure they will stick with me for quite a long time. Oh how he was snubbed of an Emmy! I can't believe that I actually wished for Colin Hanks to win the Emmy. Wow, I'm eating my words right now. I wish my keyboard was broken at the time so it would have prevented me from writing that. But I have to explain this, these movies don't make it into my country on time before the award shows. So I don't see most of the movies by the time the award shows start. So I have to be subjective and root for the performance I saw because it's my safest bet as I didn't see the others. What's more, The Normal Heart is a TV movie which means none of the channels in my country actually air it, so I have to wait for DVDs and so on. Back to Matt Bomer now. I still can't believe he didn't get the award, I really can't. It was easily an Oscar worthy performance but sadly this movie is not eligible for an Oscar. Emmy committee has to be incredibly biased here! I can't believe Martin Freeman won over Matt Bomer. Just can't believe it. I think I repeated myself like 4-5 times here and I'll do it again. I still can't believe it! Well, Matt Bomer, you are the true winner here!
Another snub was Ryan Murphy. Watching this movie made me really see how many snubs there actually were at the Emmy Awards. The directing was impeccable and I still don't believe Ryan Murphy didn't win the Emmy. I must have used different variations of the expression "don't believe", "can't believe" probably like a dozen times now. This doesn't necessarily show my lack of vocabulary. It's just how I really feel about the whole situation. It is beyond belief (another variation here)!
I am sorry if this review was all over the place. I actually believe it was. I have a million more things to say and not enough blogs to express all of them in. I watched this movie yesterday and I am still having the emotional after-affects. I do want to say something though and while it may sound harsh, I truly mean it! You don't have to like the movie. Hell, you can even hate it. But; if you don't feel even just a tad of sadness/frustration/disappointment at the events being depicted, you are a homophobic so please do us the favour of killing yourself. We already have enough hate in this world, we don't need you.
If I, as a straight female, felt this emotional in a movie like this, I can't imagine how homosexuals who are being treated as second class citizens still to this day must be feeling. Just let people love whomever they want, how hard can this really be? There is enough war/rape/murder going on in this world. It's already unlivable. Set love free as it's the only good thing that's left to mankind!