‘The Normal Heart’ muddles an important story of the AIDS epidemic

May 22, 2014 12:37 AM

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‘The Normal Heart’ muddles an important story of the AIDS epidemic

Larry Kramer’s 1985 play The Normal Heart is a polemic, an angry cry from the writer and AIDS activist who saw the nascent epidemic being ignored and/or marginalized by the government, the media, the medical establishment and even fellow members of the gay community in the early 1980s. It’s more political statement than drama, a time capsule of a certain kind of political action that has changed and developed greatly over the past few decades. As such, turning it into a movie in 2014 represents a difficult balancing act, one that Kramer (who wrote the screenplay for HBO’s movie version) and director Ryan Murphy can’t quite pull off.

Murphy, the co-creator of Glee and American Horror Story, has never been one for subtlety, and he’s very indulgent with Kramer’s many shouty monologues (most coming from Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks, Kramer’s fictionalized version of himself). Those long speeches are an essential part of Kramer’s messa...

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