Shephard Summers

Normal Hearts


Starring Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Taylor Kitsch, Julia Roberts Joe Mantello, Alfred Molina, Jonathan Groff


Altho very different from the Broadway play (that I was lucky enough to see during it’s 12-week engagement in 2011), it packs the same emotional one-two punch. For me, the biggest difference in the movie and the play is that the movie feels like it focuses on the love between Ned  and Felix a little more strongly.  But that’s a good thing.  It puts real faces on the tragedy, and gives emotional impact with real lives in the balance.

The play really shook me up. Why?  Because people were dying of aids? No, I already know that. I’ve been a supporter of BCEFA and other orgs for more than a decade.  But sitting in the audience, this play exposed the most raw and difficult thing about being gay:

We are disposable. We are 2nd-class citizens. We don’t matter. It’s okay that we die.  

Well, that was the 80’s.  I lived through it. And the 90’s.  And the 2000’s. It’s a comparitively different world today.
But this movie’s no less timely and important. See it.

I was so blown away by Mark Ruffalo’s sincere performance. And then there’s Matt Bomer. They couldn’t have cast a more empathetic and appealing Felix. I believed they loved each other.  Great performances in this movie.  One that stood out was Danielle Ferland (Into the Woods) as the surviving friend, who had a hole in her life, in her heart, filled with helplessness and loss.  That was the point my eyes first teared. From then on, more of the same.


The ratings on premiere night… 1.3 million people! That’s huge. Imagine how many more will see our very real and normal hearts played out in this beautiful film.



The amazing Broadway play,  directed by Joel Grey, won best revival for a reason. Seeing Joe Mantello, Ellen Barkin (won a Tony), John Benjamin Hickey (won a Tony), Lee Pace, and Jim Parsons was an experience I won’t forget.  It’s not easy to make the character Ned likable and empathetic. Or I should say, in the wrong actor’s hands, it’s easy for him to be one-dimentionally abrasive.  Joe Mantello was amazing.  And Ellen Barkin deserved every molecule of that Tony Award she got for her role as Dr. Brookner.




Today, we live in a world where we are fighting and winning the battle against 2nd-class citizenship.
We have a ways to go.  But every stride and step forward, we owe to those who came before and fought twice as hard.  We owe it to them, to the memory of those brave people… to see and share this amazing movie based on the play by Larry Kramer.  For every successful movie like this that comes along, we will reap more opportunities to see our very real and normal hearts portrayed on the big screen and the little screen.  Our days of being invisible are numbered.




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