• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: May 25, 2014
  • Season #: 1
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Bruce Miller
    May 27, 2014
    90
    Like Behind the Candelabra, its action isn’t measured in car chases and explosions. It’s charted in the lives it touches.
  2. Reviewed by: David Hiltbrand
    May 27, 2014
    60
    Overscored and overwrought, The Normal Heart is a tough pill to swallow. The direction of Ryan Murphy (Glee) is piercingly staccato (and visually inconsistent). The tender moments don't resonate, and the fraught moments feel hysterical.
  3. 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.
  4. Reviewed by: Maureen Ryan
    May 23, 2014
    60
    The film just about rises above its many flaws, thanks to a some committed and affecting performances from seasoned actors like Mark Ruffalo, Joe Mantello and a surprisingly effective Julia Roberts.
  5. Reviewed by: Melissa Maerz
    May 23, 2014
    67
    Characters make long, passionate speeches that sometimes fail to register because they feel like lectures--though maybe Kramer’s message shouldn’t be so easy to hear.
  6. Reviewed by: Gail Pennington
    May 23, 2014
    100
    The entire cast of The Normal Heart is outstanding, but no one stands out more than Bomer, who is so much the handsome star of USA's "White Collar," in the beginning, then almost unrecognizable as the dying Felix.
  7. Reviewed by: Matt Brennan
    May 23, 2014
    88
    HBO's The Normal Heart is a boldly corporeal expression of gay political consciousness.
  8. Reviewed by: Nancy DeWolf Smith
    May 23, 2014
    90
    In a film directed by Ryan Murphy and with strong performances, including those by Mr. Ruffalo, Ms. Roberts, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons and Alfred Molina, Mr. Mantello's anguished lament ["...can't you see how important it is for us to love openly...without guilt?"] may be the most haunting.
  9. Reviewed by: Mary McNamara
    May 23, 2014
    100
    It is a moment of fury and grace and wonder that this Heart, in which a brutally specific story is deftly re-tailored for another medium and time, loses none of its original passion or pointedness.
  10. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    May 23, 2014
    75
    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.
  11. Reviewed by: Tom Long
    May 23, 2014
    75
    Morally and historically significant, emotionally wrenching and politically terrifying, The Normal Heart is more important than artful, and that’s just fine.
  12. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    May 23, 2014
    100
    Teeming with anger, sorrow, passion and purpose, this powerful and harrowing movie is part tragic love story in plague times, part agitprop manifesto and tribute to tireless activism.
  13. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    May 23, 2014
    80
    It’s a first draft told by a first responder, with no time for niceties. But it is deepened and rounded out by some remarkable supporting performances, especially a fantastic Jim Parsons as Tommy, a warmhearted activist volunteer.
  14. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    May 23, 2014
    70
    Everything that’s excellent about The Normal Heart--including compelling performances from its stars, Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts, with an especially strong turn from "White Collar’s" Matt Bomer--is also merely just fine; very good but not great; a tear-jerker but not a bawler; and probably beyond reproach.
  15. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    May 22, 2014
    90
    The story of the plague has been told before, and it will and should continue to find new life. But The Normal Heart tells it with admirable honesty and plenty of emotion.
  16. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    May 22, 2014
    100
    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]
  17. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    May 22, 2014
    91
    The Normal Heart grows in poignancy as characters we’ve come to know are affected or afflicted by AIDS.
  18. Reviewed by: Brian Tallerico
    May 22, 2014
    80
    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.
  19. Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    May 22, 2014
    75
    What Mantello projects, and the movie lacks, is a kind of raw, exposed-nerve drive. As a play, The Normal Heart was political theater: It strong-armed you, but it worked. The movie emphasizes the love story to the point where it borders on romantic fantasy.
  20. Reviewed by: Willa Paskin
    May 22, 2014
    90
    Murphy directs with straightforwardness and sincerity and none of the camp fireworks of Glee or American Horror Story.
  21. Reviewed by: Neil Genzlinger
    May 22, 2014
    80
    The movie, adapted by Mr. Kramer and directed by Ryan Murphy, simultaneously exposes some of the play’s flaws and finds alternate sources of power in the story.
  22. Reviewed by: Ellen Gray
    May 22, 2014
    90
    Though the supporting cast members are all good (Parsons particularly so) it's Kramer's fury, channeled through Ruffalo's manic energy as the writer's alter-ego Ned Weeks, that keeps The Normal Heart beating and preserves a horrific bit of all too recent history not in amber, but in anger.
  23. Reviewed by: Mark Dawidziak
    May 22, 2014
    80
    Serve up enough great moments (and The Normal Heart certainly does), and Ryan's occasional missteps are easily dismissed as mere annoyances, not major gaffes.
  24. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    May 22, 2014
    90
    The Normal Heart sets up a bit of a “this happened, then this happened” rhythm that does not bode well. But just as quickly, the film gets this historical crutch out of its system and begins to explore in greater depth the characters and their relationships.
  25. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    May 22, 2014
    91
    The cast succeeds, and in the end, so does Heart.
  26. Reviewed by: Brandon Nowalk
    May 22, 2014
    58
    The performances are literally shaky, from wavering accents to tremulous monologues, but the movie’s such an overwhelming weepie that they fit right in.
  27. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    May 22, 2014
    75
    Buoyed by A-list star power, The Normal Heart beats erratically for more than two hours, yet delivers a gut punch in its climax.
  28. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    May 21, 2014
    90
    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.
  29. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    May 21, 2014
    90
    The translation from stage to screen also yields speeches that probably played better live, although the director has for the most part opened up the Tony-winning material into movie form. In its totality, this represents a powerful piece of work.
  30. What [director Ryan Murphy] delivers is a film with piercing emotional honesty that feels rough, and real, and intimate, and truly full of heart.
  31. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    May 20, 2014
    100
    It is emotionally raw, harrowing, and a thing of such singular horrific beauty, it will move you, exhaust you and, almost paradoxically, thrill you at the heights television drama can attain.
  32. Reviewed by: David Hinckley
    May 20, 2014
    80
    This reincarnation of The Normal Heart raises all the right disturbing questions.
  33. Reviewed by: Lori Rackl
    May 19, 2014
    100
    It’s also an intimately personal tale of Kramer’s heartbreaking first-hand experience with the disease. Directed by Ryan Murphy, it’s bound to put Emmys in the hands of a remarkable cast.
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 83 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 17
  2. Negative: 4 out of 17
  1. May 25, 2014
    10
    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. Full Review »
  2. May 27, 2014
    8
    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.
    Full Review »
  3. May 27, 2014
    9
    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.
    Full Review »