‘The Normal Heart’ is Absolutely Heartbreaking



I’d been meaning to watch this movie for a while now. I missed the premiere back in May, and just never got around to it. Mainly because I knew how heartbreaking this movie was going to be. It’s about the early days of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980’s and how know one of a position of authority did anything about it (until a heterosexual man contracted it).

Any movie with death usually gets to be. In honor of this movie, I’ll be reprising my top 10 saddest movies shortly after this post. Stay tuned.

First off, I’d like to say that the performances in this film were absolutely phenomenal. All five actors pictured above deserve an Oscar. Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer (‘White Collar’), Jim Parsons (‘The Big Bang Theory’), Taylor Kitsch (‘Friday Night Lights’), and Julia Roberts all turned in unbelievable performances. I’d like to specifically single out Ruffalo’s performance, because I can only assume it’s difficult to portray a gay man as a heterosexual man (Parsons and Bomer have been openly gay for years).

Let me be clear one on thing: I am 100% pro-LGBT. Love is love, everyone has a right to love whomever they want. If you have any hatred towards someone who isn’t “straight”, there is 99.99999% I fundamentally hate you. On to the film:

I still find myself trembling typing this post. There is no “happy ending” to this movie. As a viewer, I knew the whole time death was coming, and a lot of it. And I was right.

The first emotional blow came when Bruce Niles (Kitsch) is recounting the death of his boyfriend Albert to Ned Weeks (Ruffalo). Watch for yourself.

Who am I to say shit this like this didn’t happen? The movie clearly depicts how NO ONE wanted to deal with these people, for two reasons. One: they hated them because they’re gay. Two: They thought they’d be infected with “gay cancer”. Doctors didn’t want to tend to these people, while they were alive or dead. Pilots didn’t want them on their flights. This sequence of Albert’s death is disheartening.

Next up, Felix’s (Bomer) slow death that is gradually taking place throughout most of the film. The agonizing part about this whole sequence is when Felix goes to see Ned’s brother Ben, who hasn’t talked to Ned for most of the film. Ben doesn’t give Ned the support of his law firm in their battle. But Felix enters the room and says, “I’m you brother’s lover and I’m dying. I need a will. I’m leaving everything to Ned.” Instantly, you can see in Ben’s mind he’s thinking, “What have I done?”

As Ben is walking Felix out, Felix collapses and we cut to Ned running into a hospital corridor and seeing his brother sitting outside a room. His brother runs to him and you can physically pinpoint the point at which his heart breaks. And it continues to break for the next five minutes, as Ned spends his last moments with Felix, the man he loves. The two are married right before Felix dies, and the whole time we see Ben weeping in the background. (Can’t a clip of this one, watch the god damn movie).

The two were supposed to go to a “gay week” dance at Ned’s alma mater, Yale University. Ned goes alone, and the camera slowly moves through a crowd of slow dancing couples to until we’re shown Ned sitting alone.

The final dagger comes right at the end of the film. Like I said, there’s no happy ending. Each time someone he knows dies, Tommy (Parsons) removes their information from his roller deck and places it in an elastic. At the beginning he has 5. Halfway he has 50. At the end, he’s got 3 bundles, and we see him remove the names of all the major characters in the film, most of whom were members of their organization to spread AIDS awareness.

So there you go. Everyone dies. The end. Reagan doesn’t even publicly say the word “AIDS” until 1985.

But more importantly, this film clearly depicts the idea that the heart doesn’t discriminate. The heart wants what the heart wants, that’s just the way it was made.There’s only one type of heart, the normal heart (for those of you who stuck around and actually read this, that’s the name of the movie).