Written, directed and acted with a passion that radiates off the screen, The Normal Heart is drama at its most incendiary, a blunt instrument that is also poetic and profound. Larry Kramer wrote the 1985 play in a white heat, recalling a time when the AIDS epidemic was ignored by doctors, politicians and many gay men. Seen on Broadway in a Tony-winning 2011 revival, The Normal Heart is now a full-out, see-it-feel-it-touch-it film, available on HBO from May 25th. Directed with ferocity and feeling by Ryan Murphy (Glee), this American horror story is indispensable viewing, still vital and relevant. As Ned Weeks, the gay activist based on Kramer, Mark Ruffalo gives a virtuoso performance of loneliness, terror and fearsome resolve. His skill is matched by Julia Roberts as a doctor immobilized by polio, another virus, but whose mind never stops stirring things up. Matt Bomer cuts deep as Ned's closeted lover, and Alfred Molina stings as Ned's lawyer brother. As gay men in crisis, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Joe Mantello (who played Ned onstage) all excel. But it's Kramer, still raging over what's not being done, who tears at your heart.
From The Archives Issue 1210: June 5, 2014