The Normal Heart


Growing up, coming of age and coming out at the tail-end of the AIDS crisis was a total mind-fuck of terrifying, confusing, emotionally-scarring proportions. (Run that “Pride” meme round your head why don’t you, while contemplating the Gay Cancer….) So: I missed out on the glorious bacchanalia, and landed at a time of fear and shame and grief. Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart was, I think, the very first time that I read a text that brimmed, not with bewildered helplessness and mild exhortations to do better, but with so much anger, so much righteous indignation, so much disgust for those who did nothing. The movie of the play follows the same journey – of grumpy, anti-social Ned Weeks (played with a pent-up, bristling fury by Mark Ruffalo) who goes on the offensive when AIDS first hits his circle of friends, and lobbies with outspoken ferocity for the resources to tackle the crisis. It’s a fantastic film. Ruffalo is excellent and Matt Bomer is just lovely as Ned’s dying boyfriend Felix – it’s a moving, devastating, beautiful star turn from him. And the rest of the cast – Julia Roberts, Jim Parsons, Taylor Kitsch, Jonathan Groff to name but few – uniformly excellent. For obvious reasons, I found it intensely personal and distressing and I sobbed quietly the whole way through.

In Time

In In Time, Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried are given a single metaphorical conceit – time is money – and asked to streeeeeeeeeetch it out into an entire 90 minute movie….

The results are not entirely unpleasing or unsuccessful – it’s got dashing Matt Bomer for a bit at the beginning, so how could it not be? And some of the social implications of such a dystopian society are nicely done. But basically, Justy and Mands really get to run about a lot like a chemistry-less Bonnie and Clyde, robbing banks and dodging both the law and fellow criminals. Meh, I thought.

Mostly because I found it very very difficult to suspend disbelief. I was continually distracted by whether the movie’s universe is futuristic or alternative, or whether people would ever be stupid enough to ever actually replace money with time, and at what point the ditching of dollars for youth took place. Of course, I don’t think anyone would willingly give up control over their lives in this simplistic way – but then I wouldn’t have thought people would accept the concept of monarchy and eternal second class citizenship in 2012 either, and if this week in Blighty is anything to go by, apparently they do. In Time filmed in and around downtown LA, and I’m reminded I need to re-watch this film once I’ve stayed there during LTS later this month.