I didn't know whether or not I would watch The Normal Heart last night. I was scared. I can be sensitive with regards to stories like that (which, I guess, isn't a bad thing, and better than being stony towards them), and that whole period of history in particular is always very hard for me to read about or watch. I have a friend who lived in New York in that era, and his stories of what it was like are devastating. But I thought it the very, the VERY, least I could do for all the people who died, and lived, through that time.
I cried for about
ten minutes after the credits. But I'm more than glad I did watch. I can't express how much I admire who survived
that period. I spent ten minutes crying over a dramatization; I don't
think I could have coped actually living it. No one is stronger or more
courageous than that cohort. What a waste it was, what a loss. As Jim Parsons character said in one of the many devastating scenes, a whole generation of artists and thinkers and lovers were just deleted, and who knows what they would have done, how they might have enriched the world. In a lot of ways, most of the gay rights victories of the past thirty years are a direct result of that generation, as they fought literally to live, but for all the great and amazing things, like gay marriage, I'm not sure the price in blood was one anyone would quite regard as a fair trade.
Acting-wise, it was a tour-de-force. I have one of those irrational antipathies for Julia Roberts, but her turn as the parapalegic doctor trying to save all the gay men of New York was stellar. The real stand-outs, though, were Jim Parsons and Matthew Bomer. They were truly breathtaking.
Watch it, if you haven't. I'm sure it'll be repeated, On Demand, Go-ed, etc. It's a story that needs to be seen.
Update: Or, as I was saying, but better, read this review from the inimitable Richard Lawson.