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|Index||55 reviews in total|
A beautifully written film, graced with a stunning, brave and transcendent performance from Tom Wilkinson, Normal proves that a sensitive subject can be handled tastefully, humorously, respectfully and with breathtaking subtlety. At the heart of this labor of love is the subject of the tediously restrictive and ultimately damaging nature of gender labels, but this is never depicted in a heavy-handed way; writer Jane Anderson instead creates genuine characters, human and struggling and all-too painfully real.
This is a disturbing movie, one not easy to watch. Much more than the
formula driven "dysfunction of the month" movie, this tackles a very real
medical and sexual problem. It does so candidly and honestly, even using
humour in several scenes. Yet it takes neither cheap nor trivial shots and
never fails to show deep respect for the problem and for the characters
affected by it. It must have been a hard sell to the producers, a movie
delving into (and under) a subject that is little understood, which has
small public sympathy and which is deeply disturbing to both men and women
viewers. Yet it's encouraging that all the comments I read here on IMdb were
similar to mine. There was nothing negative.
I gave it an 8 rather than a 10 only because Jessica Lange may have been
just too much of a saint. Yet who knows what any of us would do if
confronted with such a situation in our own marriages. It sparked a good
discussion between my wife and I. Any movie that gets you thinking and
talking is a good movie.
There are things going on on the surface in this film that will be foreign, and even repellant to a lot of people. But hopefully those who are thoughtful will be able to look beneath that to find a message that we can all hopefully relate to..the idea of loving the soul of a person regardless of their appearance and loving someone selfishly and completely. I could not relate to Tom W's characters gender identity issue nor could I put myself in jessica lange's character's position of dealing with all that. But I was moved by how much these people truly loved each other. The actors did a great job handling a subject that could have easily slipped into the farcical or maudlin. Another good hbo movie product
Writing, acting, and direction were outstanding. I chuckled, laughed, brimmed with tears, during, and thought differently after this film. The character interaction captured so well the kinds of behavior one might see (but not necessarily expect) under such highly unusual circumstances. Midwest setting underscored the challenge and the humanity. HBO should release this to theaters next.
Normal is a funny, lovely, touching love story about a God-fearing rural
small-town Midwestern couple--Roy and Irma Applewood--played by Tom
Wilkinson and Jessica Lange. Shortly after their 25th anniversay, Roy
public with the revelation that he has long felt that he is a woman
in a man's body, and with the Protestant determination to do something
it, no matter the consequences. Irma (Jessica Lange), an avid knitter and
member of the church choir, naturally finds this a little
And so the fun begins. Roy gradually becomes a woman, and Irma, as well as the kids and the townspeople, all react.
Wilkinson is a curious transsexual, shattering virtually all of our myths, he evolves from an aging, non-descript man into a still-frumpy and hopelessly homely woman. While we may feel his pain, Anderson is much more interested in challenging our reaction to him than delving into his conflicted anguish. Nevertheless, she treats his change with a certain amount of whimsy. It is difficult not to warm to his smile when he dons his first earrings.
But it is Lange who is the star of the show. Demonstrating a surprising knack for dry comedy, she moves from frustration and resentment to acceptance and compassion. Surely drawing from her own Midwestern roots (some of the move could easily have been filmed in Cloquet, Minnesota!) Lange's character never wallows in self-pity, but searches for answers within, as she seeks to redefine her relationship to her husband.
Lange once again displays her extraordinary talent. (Truth be told, she was my first crush, and she is aging beautifully.) She portrays strength and vulnerability like few in her class. (Meryl Streep comes to mind.)
Hayden Panettiere is also quite good as the 13-year-old daughter.
Normal premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
When I read the synopsis for this movie I was a bit 50/50 whether to watch it or not. Thank God I chose to do so. It is a journey of discovery, of pain, of sorrow, of anger, of resentment, of bitterness which then turns to a journey of acceptance, love, commitment, and joy. I know there is a lot of talk in the USA today about homosexuality, etc and such issues, but all I ask of anyone who has a soul is to give this movie a chance with an open heart and mind. This movie asks the hard questions and there are no easy answers. What you have is a group of actors plying their trade at the highest level. I commend this movie very highly to anyone with an open mind. I give this movie (for honesty) 9/10. A must see.
In the countryside of the United States of America, Irma Applewood
(Jessica Lange) and her husband Roy Applewood (Tom Wilkinson) have been
happily married for twenty-five years and they are model citizens in
Roy brings Irma to meet Reverend Dale Muncie (Randall Arney), who is their pastor and friend, to tell that he is a woman trapped in a man's body and he will be submitted to a sex-change operation.
Now Roy has to face the deception of his wife and the intolerance of his colleagues, members of his church and his son Wayne (Joe Sikora). But Irma loves him and after the impact of the news, she understands and supports him with their teenage daughter Patty Ann (Hayden Panettiere) and Roy's boss Frank (Clancy Brown) that is their friend.
"Normal" is a great HBO movie with an ironic title about the life of a middle-aged couple married with children in a small town that is affected by the decision of the husband of changing his sex. The screenplay, direction and performances are top-notch, with Jessica Lange still very beautiful for a fifty-four year-old woman and awesome and courageous performance of Tom Wilkinson. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): Not Available
Tom Wilkinson has been hiding a very big secret from the world. Husband
and father, during a marriage counseling visit with his local pastor,
he comes out with the fact that inside he feels he was born a woman.
That comes as a big shock to his wife of 25 years, Jessica Lange, and
their minister, Randall Arney.
This revelation is quite a blockbuster for everyone all around. These are blue collar people, not terribly sophisticated and not well read into the world of transgender. Still most try to cope as best they can.
Tom Wilkinson and Jessica Lange give a pair of beautifully matched performances in Normal. Wilkinson is a decent man, a good husband and father, a good provider, who can't keep up the pretense any more. He starts to transition into a woman, but stays at home to be the parent to young Hayden Panettiere who is just entering puberty. In fact with the estrogen treatments that Wilkinson is taking is almost like him going through puberty a second time with his own daughter.
Lange is the housewife and mother, she does not in fact work, but during the course of the film does take a job for her own income. Her reaction is to castigate Wilkinson, but also to blame herself and in fact her pastor says something like that to her. His only solution is to come up with some scripture from Ephesians that he says covers the situation. Something about emasculating her man.
Arney is an interesting character, transgender is not something taught at the seminary. He's trying to figure it out, but can only think and operate from a very narrow framework. Eventually Wilkinson and Lange leave the church, a most gut wrenching experience for both since they are sincere Christians.
The key scene in this film is during a family reunion at Thanksgiving when Wilkinson's father, who's suffering from the beginnings of Alzheimer's. There is a deep focus shot of Wilkinson in the foreground as dad, Richard Bull, is talking about how as a kid with five daughters he was worried about having an effeminate son when he caught him trying on his mother's clothes. Bull relates he beat his son to get the effeminacy out of him..
The shot then switches to a closeup of Lange and it's worth more than ten pages of dialog as she now knows this is not either some whim of her husband's nor anything that is her fault. Excellent camera work and acting, especially for a TV movie.
Although they are married and stay married, my guess is that at some point Wilkinson and Lange will part amicably. During the film in fact she does begin an affair with her husband's boss, Clancy Brown. My guess is that though she does love Wilkinson very much, Lange will miss the physical intimacy of marriage.
Someone did some good research into transgender issues. There is a brief scene with Wilkinson trying to talk in a higher register now that he's transitioning. One thing I've learned from transgender friends is that one's vocal cords are set for life in puberty when one is male. There are vocal techniques to talk lower, but they have to be learned and presumably Wilkinson will learn them. People who are born female will have their vocal cords thicken with the testosterone treatment
There are very few people that out and out hate the man for transitioning to female. He does get some hate graffiti on his truck and he does get into a fight with one of his co-workers. Mostly they just can't understand. Interesting that Hayden Panettiere reports no problems in school with peers over her dad. It's sometimes the case that the young are the most tolerant indeed.
Normal is a sensitive treatment of transgender issues with some fine performances and a good story with no real ending in sight for this family.
In "Normal", an HBO feature film, a middleaged midwestern farming community family man (Wilkinson) reveals his plans to change gender. The film spends the entire run examining the reactions and adjustments of his family, coworkers, and community as he begins the process of transforming himself from man to woman up to but not including the required surgery. The result is an even, well managed, and delicate drama in which all the characters are exquisitely understanding and empathetic though the guy-to-gal protag does become a bit of a pariah as he moves from aftershave to perfume and there are periodic flare-ups as folks work to get their heads around the notion of a transgender in their midst. Though well executed, there's nothing particularly surprising in the film making it a lukewarm watch for all but those with an interest in the subject. (B)
This quiet film about what may be "Normal" or not, for any of us,deals with marriage, a solid relationship that has lasted for 25 years, celebrated by Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson at the beginning of the film. As it turns out, Roy, (wilkinson, better than ever)confess,in tears, that he feels like a woman trapped in the wrong body. There is no sensationalism in this film, or debate about sex change operations, but rather about love, understanding, enduring each other shortcomings, companionship,and a dosage of subtle humor, facing what each day may bring.While one witnesses the transformation of Roy,it also observe the acceptance that Irma offers to his husband.
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