Kit Steinkellner
May 21, 2014 12:00 pm

“The Normal Heart,” premiering on HBO on May 25th, promises to be a straight-up EVENT of a movie. Here are 5 reasons we’re excited.

1.) It’s a story that demands to be told. 

Written by Larry Kramer (and based on his largely-autobiographical 1985 play of the same name), “The Normal Heart” chronicles the onset of the AIDS epidemic in the United States. It follows Ned Weeks, a gay man who sees his friend succumb to a mysterious new disease and fights hard to organize, take action, and combat this living nightmare. The play (and its subject matter) are 30 years old and still so much about this story is as relevant now as it was then.

2.) “More stars than there are in the heavens…”

I know I’m hyperbolizing, whatever, the point stands that this film has a LOT of great stars. Mark Ruffalo stars as the movie’s lead, Ned Weeks. Julia Roberts plays Dr. Emma Brookner, a wheelchair-bound doctor and crusader for AIDS patients. Other A++ actors with important roles in the film include, Alfred Molina (Yes, Doc Ock from “Spiderman”), Jim Parsons (Yes, Sheldon from “Big Bang Theory”), Taylor Kitsch (Yes, Tim Riggins from “Friday Night Lights” and also SUPER SWOON), Jonathan Groff (Yes, Kristoff from “Frozen,” more swooning). There’s so much white-hot talent and hotness in this movie I’m surprised the set didn’t explode into a fiery ball of awesome while shooting.

3.) Ryan Murphy never plays it safe,

Ryan Murphy, of “Glee” and “American Horror Story” fame directed the film, and whether or not you always agree with his artistic decisions and sensibility, you have to hand it to him as a writer/director. The man never plays it safe, and with a story as combustible as this one, that’s exactly what you need: a director who’s going to pull out all the stops.

4.) The reviews are coming in and they’re GREAT.

David Hinckley at The New York Daily News says “This reincarnation of ‘The Normal Heart’ raises all the right disturbing questions.” David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun states “HBO’s ‘The Normal Heart’ will do something to you that TV rarely does: rock you to your emotional roots.” Lori Racki of The Chicago Sun Times calls it “…an intimately personal tale of Kramer’s heartbreaking first-hand experience with the disease.” Brian Lowry over at Variety calls it “a powerful piece of work.” Solid recs from solid reviewers.

5.) Writer Larry Kramer is a straight-up hero.

During the 1980’s Larry Kramer was a well-known advocate for gay men infected with AIDS. He’s fought for years for this play to become a movie and he very nearly missed his chance to see his dream realized. Kramer, who is H.I.V. positive, came close to dying twice this year. “I fought to hang on to get to this moment,” Kramer says. “There are so many times I never thought I would. ” I’m so excited to see such an intensely personal story from the mind of such an inspiring human being.

Check out this recently released trailer from the filmmakers, chronicling the history of homophobia, gay rights, and AIDS.

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