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  • Series Premiere Date: May 25, 2014
  • Season #: 1
The Normal Heart Image

Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics What's this?

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 68 Ratings

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  • Summary: Ryan Murphy's adaptation of Larry Kramer's Tony-winning play about the early days of the AIDS crisis. After seeing a friend succumb to a new disease killing gay men at the offices of Dr. Emma Brookner (Julia Roberts), Ned Weeks (Mark Ruffalo) seeks to organize more action to combat it, even as his bluntness threatens to alienate people around him including his brother Ben (Alfred Molina), his lover Felix (Matt Bomer), and Bruce Niles (Taylor Kitsch), a closeted investment banker. Expand
  • Genre(s): Drama, Movie/Mini-Series
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. 100
    The film has poetry and vitality, too, and its greatest virtue is that it seems not to give a damn if you approve of any of its creative choices as long as you connect with it emotionally and intellectually.
  2. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    May 22, 2014
    Ned and just about everyone else erupts in violent arguments, denunciations, accusations, counteraccusations, diatribes--these are searing, electrifying moments, furiously articulate and delivered with escalating passion. [2 Jun 2014, p.45]
  3. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    May 22, 2014
    The Normal Heart grows in poignancy as characters we’ve come to know are affected or afflicted by AIDS.
  4. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    May 21, 2014
    While a miniseries might have truly been something to behold--allowing the slow helplessness to really penetrate viewers, there’s something to be said about making a big, loud noise and getting the message out--again. In that sense, both Murphy and Kramer do the play justice (as you would expect) and have created a powerful modern history reminder for those too young to understand the all-too-recent past.
  5. Reviewed by: Brian Tallerico
    May 22, 2014
    Murphy is a fascinating dichotomy in that he works expertly with actors and actresses (even in a mess like "Eat Pray Love" and undeniably in every season of "AHS") and so the performances he draws from his inevitably-Emmy-winning cast play tug-of-war with his melodramatic leanings and, ultimately, win the fight enough to allow his film to resonate.
  6. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    May 23, 2014
    Ultimately, the good in Normal Heart outweighs the bad, which isn't always the case with Murphy's work. It's an important story packed with vivid individual moments, but with this material and these actors, it feels like it could be so much more than what it is.
  7. Reviewed by: Brandon Nowalk
    May 22, 2014
    The performances are literally shaky, from wavering accents to tremulous monologues, but the movie’s such an overwhelming weepie that they fit right in.

See all 33 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 16
  2. Negative: 4 out of 16
  1. May 25, 2014
    Leave it ti HBO to produce the most important movie this year, The Normal Heart is brave, sweet and raw. Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Julia Roberts and Joe Mantello shine and deliver Oscar worthy performances. Taylor Kitsch, Jim parsons and Alfred Molina are amazing and will also fight for the Emmy´s, there are great supporting cast surprises like BD Wong, Danielle Ferland and Stephen Spinella. Expand
  2. Jun 2, 2014
    Straight guy who really liked the movie. Caught it on HBO Go. A little heavy in some parts but i gave it a ten because I really like the story and the education behind it, also i just thought it was a good movie, I recommend it to all! Expand
  3. May 27, 2014
    I'm not sure why Roberts or Ruffalo are getting so much flack -- this movie is an adaptation of a play that is largely polemical. You should expect lengthy monologues. I thought both brought a relentlessness and emotionality to their roles that the characters required. They weren't meant to be polished, Sorkin-esque banter -- they were supposed to be charged and shaky and uneven. That takes much more acting talent than the perfectly delivered speech.

    Thought the film itself was a powerful reminder of our shameful inaction and the social stigma that cost so many lives.
  4. Aug 30, 2014
    I thought this would be worse, I expected some stellar turns by actors, a succession of tearjerking moments and vague if overall interesting drama, and for the first half hour it seemed it could go near there, so I was surprised to find drama, political and otherwise, was the star of this movie. Ned Weeks is a pain in the ass, but a necessary one, he's probably right about everything. He's got some very fine lines and there's a very solid scene when he confronts his brother; the monologue by Marcus, during the second half of the movie, is terrific. Weeks courting of felix is endearingly clumsy and very funny. It's to the director's credit that the dramatic qualities of the text surface naturally most of the time. The actors deserve some kind of ensemble prize, although Alfred Molina does go a little hammy for the last ten minutes or so, he doesn't cry good, and frankly, perhaps he shouldn't have cried at all, he's very fine for the rest of the movie, though. Anyway, it doesn't marr one bit the truthfulness and heartbreaking precision of the feelings portrayed by Bomer and Ruffalo in Ned and Felix's last scene together. Beyond all that, The Normal Heart, contains a moment of pure magic: there's a party related to a fundraising campaing in a disco, everybody is dancing to gloria Gaynor's I will survive and things like that and then, out of nowhere, comes the sound of a piano, just one, and a very large male chorus starts to sing The Man I Love, sounding almost a capella, all the guys are now dancing cheek to cheek, the scene ends when Ned and Felix go out and walk down some kind of peer with the New York landscape in the background, like an old Hollywood movie. Expand
  5. May 27, 2014
    Wow. I am so glad HBO made this movie.

    This political gay love story about HIV/AIDS just gave me so much feels and I never expected that,
    mainly because of the feeling of losing someone you love the most to AIDS sucks really bad.

    The performances from the cast are surely Emmy worthy. My favorite has to be when Dr. Emma Brookner (played by Julia Roberts) shouts at the mayor of New York on how she is frustrated and insulted that he won’t even give money to fund for AIDS research. I will be really surprised if she isn’t even nominated for an Emmy.

    The story was great as well. I learned many things about the AIDS epidemic in the early 80s because of this movie. But there is one plot hole I noticed. If Felix Turner (played by Matt Bomer) has AIDS and he had sex with Ned Weeks (played by Mark Ruffalo), shouldn’t he be affected by it? Did Felix had AIDS after that? These questions weren’t answered.

    But, the directing and the cinematography is great as well. I am glad Ryan Murphy directed this, because he is a great director. Just give him a big budget and he will do it flawlessly.

    Overall, this HBO movie will surely teach the young generation about AIDS, touch the viewer’s hearts and meanwhile, grabbing the Emmy spotlight.
  6. Jun 21, 2014
    Despite some good performances from Roberts, Ruffalo and Matt B... the movie falls flat. Yes - it's extremely emotional given the subject matter... and the cause in the fight against aids... so as a political and social statement for the gay community it succeeds, but as a film, it just doesn't jive. There's no real story arc here; we are too detached from some of the characters to feel anything; and ruffallo's charcter (larry kramer) is just too much of an angry fanatic to like. He alienates the members of GMHC, and he sort of alienated me from this film. Again, kudos to Murphy who did a great job with the material, to the cast (except for Taylor k) who did a great job, and to Pitt/Kramer for getting the film made! I think Philadelphia did a much better job at telling the story of the aids crisis - it gave us characters we could relate to and fall in love with... and the story had a place to go. Normal Heart fails in that respect - big time. Expand
  7. May 26, 2014
    Let's be clear, the story of the inaction of the government during the AIDS crisis needs to be told. I am a gay man and I loved this play when I saw it on stage. However, the acting in this adaption is incredibly sub-par. I couldn't take it within 10 minutes of starting to watch. The supporting characters were alright but the actor that represented Larry Kramer (the male lead) delivered each line in a horrible monotone. Everytime he spoke I rolled my eyes and mocked his delivery. Julia Roberts was just as bad. I gave it a 1 as I'm sure many were unaware of this history (I lived through it) Expand

See all 16 User Reviews

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