I finally had an opportunity to see the HBO production of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart. I had read the play the summer before college, and was surprised by how many plot points had stayed in my head. I remember it being angry and heartbreaking in just the right ways, and it still is. I don’t cry in movies, but this had me on the brink of tears.
When I read it I thought Tommy was the best. He was the sweetest, and got some of the best lines. The movie proved me was right. Parsons is excellent in the role, and I love that it’s a queer actor in a queer role. The whole cast is great, but knowing that they aren’t all straight did make it better. If Ruffalo had been even a little bit off I would have held his heterosexuality against him, but he was excellent. Ned is not exactly likable, he’s a dick, and Ruffalo gets that, along with the vulnerability and fucked-upness that makes him act that way. Julia Roberts is oddly excellent, but I never forgot she was Julia Roberts — I don’t know if there’s anyway that would have been possible. It worked though. It’s really something to see America’s former sweetheart in a wheelchair with wrinkles getting angry about how fucking broken the system was.
I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about this history lately, which it feels like isn’t brought up enough. This plague started by obliterating a generation of gay men, as it grew to a global epidemic, while the American government sat back and watched. I’ve been trying to find my way through this history with different books and movies and stuff, and The Normal Heart is an absolutely essential part of that venture.