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Normal (Sous-titres français)
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As Roy (Tom Wilkinson, In the Bedroom) and Irma (Jessica Lange, Cape Fear, Tootsie) celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, Roy passes out. While meeting with their pastor, Roy reveals that he's a woman trapped in a man's body, and he wants to get a sex change--setting in motion a complex and emotionally fraught conflict between husband and wife, individual and community, and parent and child. Normal explores Roy's gender dysphoria with empathy, but also has an eye for the social and familial absurdities that come up. The humor, far from trivializing the issue, steers it away from cloying sentiment or politically correct sanctimony. The movie captures the confusion of Roy's friends and coworkers with realism and without judgment, and the stressful changes of Roy and Irma's relationship aren't sugarcoated or made into a moral lesson. Both Lange and Wilkinson are superb, as are the skillful script and direction. --Bret Fetzer
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My main criticism is that the timeline is hard to follow. Ruth seems to transition much more quickly than most transsexuals, and she makes many mistakes, such as the above-mentioned earrings at work, the perfume she wears on the job, and the falsetto singing that gets her kicked out of choir. We never learn how Ruth gets her hormones, or how she gets permission for sex reassignment surgery--as all transsexuals know, there are gatekeeper issues in transition, and the director never reveals that side of Ruth's struggle.
In all, though, this is an entertaining and well crafted story, and it should help in the struggle for acceptance that all transgendered people go through. See it with your family, and learn to accept the diversity of the population around all of us.
The movie also shows how a so-called accepting and forgiving church community now shuns him as he becomes what he is and ever wanted to be. His young daughter is an amazing teenager who shows great understanding and love towards her parent and fully stands by him. Upon hearing his understandably shocking news his loving wife blames herself and is confused and very very hurt.
They separate for a while but reunite shortly thereafter and she also comes to support his decision and help him in every way, even when it's time to pick out flattering new clothes for "Ruth. This whole family remains a solid unit.
That is what this wonderful movie is about. Enduring love, understanding and acceptance.
In presenting the gender transition of a middle-aged man in a small, conservative farming community, this film has an odd omission. As an earlier reviewer pointed out, Roy/Ruth is able to go through hormone therapy and to get Sexual Reassignment Surgery without the film ever showing how. This is more than just a technicality. To get HRT, one needs a prescription. Most endocrinologists who work with TG people work as much on the emotional side of the issues as they do on the physical. To get SRS, one must have letters from two therapists. Roy faces some incredibly difficult issues in this film. He also makes some very dangerous choices, such as wearing perfume and earrings to work before having disclosed his transition. In real life, the therapist would be working with Ruth on all of these things. It almost feels as though a decision was made after shooting to edit out all of the scenes in which Ruth interacts with her doctor and her therapist.
This does have the effect of focusing on the real drama, the evolving relationships within the family. But it makes the film feel somehow unreal and misguided.
Other than that, as several reviewers have mentioned, the acceptance of the community as depicted is extremely optimistic.
For all that, this film nailed it. A couple I know invited me over to watch movies with them one night, and popped this one into the VCR. Halfway into the film, I broke down weeping and had to leave. As a TG woman myself, this film captured the truth of what happens, of the emotions and changes, as accurately as anything I've ever seen. The humanity of this movie, in how it depicts all of the family members, is stunning.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I found that this movie really sugar coats the transgender transition. The movie is entertaining, however the only character who's feelings about the process come across, are... Read morePublished 23 months ago by cindy
ce film est vraiment interessant car c'est un sujet tres delicat meme de nos jours. Je trouve les personnes attachantes, ce genre de film est tres rare sur nos ecran, et c'est tres... Read morePublished on Dec 3 2010 by J. Bernier
Fabulous movie - 100% recommended.
Jessica Lange & Tom Wilkinson tell the story with beauty, love & compassion - a must see!
Excellent performance with Jessica Lange & Tom Wilkinson. The rest of the cast was also very good and well directed by Jane Anderson. Read morePublished on Aug. 27 2004 by Sophie
Roy (Tom Wilkinson) and Irma (Jessica Lange) are a normal farm family with an estranged son and a teenage daughter. Read morePublished on June 13 2004 by Martin A Hogan
"Normal" is a film where the performances by Tom Wilkinson and Jessica Lange are so much better than the script. Read morePublished on April 30 2004 by Lawrance Bernabo
Well, it had one of the best opening credits scenes I've ever seen- great stuff. Its a movie about this couple who have been happily married for 25 years and are still devoted and... Read morePublished on April 26 2004 by Amazon Customer
The HBO film Normal is definetly good. The film really does open your eyes to some interesting points. Read morePublished on April 20 2004