Approximately ten years ago I saw artist Gregg Bordowitz (1964-) give a lecture, after a minimal audience, viewed his ripping film “Fast Trip, Long Drop”. Gregg was diagnosed H.I.V. positive in 1988; he was twenty-four years old. His brutally authentic, autobiographical film, savagely addresses his life before he became ill; halcyon, fast, fun days of irresponsible youthful hedonism, versus the remainder of his life tied to medications, “cocktails” that kept, and are still keeping him alive. Instead of succumbing to self-pity, he became one of AIDS fiercest advocates. Watching HBO’s “The Normal Heart” (based on Larry Kramer’s 1985 play), remembering Gregg and a plethora of others who fought against society’s blatant discrimination of a group whose lifestyle was categorically condemned by religious institutions and glacially ignored by the government.
Simultaneously fascinating and heartbreaking; profound acting, wrenchingly depicts, the horrific effects of AIDS on a community of men, whose potential was snuffed, blighted by lack of treatment or research. Julia Roberts is stunning as “Dr. Emma Brookner”, a woman determined to treat and ignite awareness in a cosmos slowly, but catastrophically, plagued by this insidious epidemic.
Mark Ruffalo, as “Ned Weeks” (Larry Kramer) is dazzling as the pugnacious prophet; iconoclastic, autocratic, unorthodox; a founder of the Gay’s Men’s Health Crisis; this led to his eventual dismissal from the group; more interested in staying within the confines of propriety.
Matt Bomer (“White Collar”) gives an iconic performance as “Felix Turner”, Ned’s lover; he shed over 40 pounds for the role; a role, painfully pure, refined, unforgettable.
“The Normal Heart” directed by Ryan Murphy, produced by Brad Pitt, is enhanced by skilled actors: Taylor Kitsch, Alfred Molina, Jim Parsons; exhibiting sweeping, acute understanding and empathy for a disease that has slaughtered and infected so many.
Beneath the epidermis, sternum and ribs, lies “the normal heart”, a normalcy shared by all.