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  • 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 goes public with the revelation that he has long felt that he is a woman trapped in a man's body, and with the Protestant determination to do something about it, no matter the consequences. Irma (Jessica Lange), an avid knitter and member of the church choir, naturally finds this a little disconcerting.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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 their community.

    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
  • 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.
  • uniVerse-419 March 2003
    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.
  • mjcooke5114 December 2004
    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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Excellent performances by Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson. The screenplay affirms the truth of the adage..."the things we do for love". And it distinguishes love and passion, delineating how each strengthens the other.

    The writer/director eschews cliches, demonstrating how small events can sometimes tell a story more powerfully than moments of high drama,

    I enjoyed it more on second viewing than first.
  • 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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I was uncertain of what to expect from this film. I was afraid it would turn into something like Nathan Lane in "The Birdcage". That didn't happen. What did happen was Tom Wilkinson blew me away. This is just another role to show what a versatile actor he is. His portrayal of Roy/Ruth is excellent. He made me care about what happens to this character. Jessica Lang as Irma was brilliant as well. Irma came off as a living, breathing person, thru her denial, anger and acceptance of her husband's life changing decision. Jessica Lange played her with a strength but still an underlying vulnerability that I found very believable.
  • ruben36317 March 2003
    Initially, I wondered why Tom Wilkinson (whom I was not familiar with)got one of the starring roles in this movie opposite of Jessica Lange. Everyone knows super talented and beautiful Jessica but Tom Wilkinson? As I watched the movie it all made sense to me. Someone like Richard Gere or Harrison Ford would have constantly reminded us that we were watching a movie. Tom Wilkinson made us feel that we were watching a true story, with real life characters,develop in front of our eyes.
  • WankerReviews27 September 2019
    Warning: Spoilers
    The way this begins almost made me not want to watch the rest of it. The opening was very rushed. We're automatically introduced to a husband who confesses that he was born in the wrong body. Jessica Lange who plays his wife, gives an odd performance. The way she reacts to his confesses didn't seem realistic, like bad acting on her part. Which surprised me cause she's a great actress. I assumed there would be a build up before his confession. Seeing him struggle through life, and his wife slowly realizing that something was wrong. Instead of showing this, the characters tell you this. First 15 minutes were shaky but I stuck through it. Glad I did. Jessica is an amazing actress, and so is eveyone else.

    My favorite part about this was seeing all the people in his life, coworkers, his kids, and wife, react and dealing with this sudden change. I really liked how they finally accepted him without being too preachy about it. Movies like this usually have violence, foul language, or even sexual assault. But this was wholesome. Which was refreshing.
  • Normal is about Roy Applewood, who then becomes Ruth Applewood. Early on in the film Roy expresses to his wife Irma that he has always desired to live as a female. The emotional turmoil that this puts Irma through is very profound, and she struggles to accept her husband's change of lifestyle. She even goes as far as to nearly commit adultery against Roy/Ruth through her emotional turmoil. A particular issue in the film is their son's feelings of awkwardness regarding Roy's transformation. The family is weakened and strengthened by the following turn of events. The film depicts how the couple works though this issue together, and the strength of the bond of family and marriage.

    One thing that should be noted is that the overall feeling of the film is very bland. All characters are very old (no offense to anyone,) dialogue becomes very heavy/boring, cinematography is flat, and the overall pace of the film is very slow. Since the story is unconventional, and the pace of the story is very slow, the film would have been aided by having more artistic film-making/experimental shots. But unfortunately since the film was produced by HBO films, we already know that we will not get anything artistic, but simply something which is trying to appeal to sexually repressed older/married people. HBO is a mid-life crisis exploitation channel, and this film demonstrates that clearly.

    On a positive note, the film could have significant meaning particularly for someone who is married and has had any sort of transgender feelings.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In the opening scene there are pictures of the "perfect couple" in the newspapers, celebrating their anniversary of over twenty five years - which is a very long time. They must know each other inside out, every positives or negatives they might have. They live in a beautiful house, they have sweet children that are full of life and healthy. They seem to have everything in order and shows the fantasy like lifestyle of any couples future. However this story has one of the most shocking story lines I have ever seen in a movie. The husband has been hiding his true identity this whole time and confesses that he is a transgender woman, trapped inside of a mans body. This is highly shocking and the wife cannot accept this at first.

    Her reaction to his confession, although it is violent and cruel, it is definitely understanding. After being with the man for so long, she was completely convinced that she knew everything there is to know about him. She feels as if she has been lied to through out the whole relationship and her life is falling apart. Her gradual acceptance is also heartfelt and warm, as we see her suffering yet trying desperately to understand her husbands destiny, especially after witnessing him trying to commit suicide from the pressure he could not deal with anymore.

    This movie showed how natural it was for person to become transgender, and that it is not something they choose for themselves. Everyone is born with a gender, and in this case the physical aspect and the mental aspect were switched, and mismatched. How the wife, his co- worker, his boss all reacted show how real life society would react to this kind of situation. People are not educated to understand there are "different" types of people, and that they are normal in their own way. We are educated to believe that it is an abnormality, a disease, and a disorder instead of trying to reach out and understand their situation. The bullying that the main character experienced in his manly, work place also reflect on the amount of rejection society has towards indifferences.

    However we see that the unconditional love of the wife and the daughter, and gradually the son after some time, reveal that all the husband needed was support to get rid of all the anxieties he had been feeling. The indifferences did not change a person, it actually made the people around him more open minded and accepting to differences between people. This movie really opened up my world as well and helped me see something that I was taught was a type of "retardation" as well. Watching this movie helped me realize that we need to learn to love and accept each others indifferences no matter how hard it is.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I thought the story was unrealistic. After all those years of being married, would a couple have a hard time getting over it? But if it was real, I feel that Roy is a really strong person, trying to become a woman and fight for her own rights in the men's world. It was really striking to see her getting back the earrings that were taken away. But I'm happy to see the family getting well together again, since this may not happen to all. I think the couple will be separated in most cases. Overall, a nice romantic film without making it over romantic. It portrays a strong family bond, and makes me feel that it is important to understand others circumstances more.
  • "Normal" took me completely by surprise. Usually, a television only broadcasted movie means that this film wasn't even good enough to be shown in the theater. But that's not the case at all. "Normal" tells the story of a man who should have been born a woman. At first, the premise doesn't seem so different than "A Beautiful Boxer". However, what makes this story special is that the main character is a middle-aged man who has been married for 20 years, has two children, and a solid job where he is in line for a promotion. You can only imagine the reaction his wife, co-workers, and the community had when they found out the secret he's been hiding for decades. That's the premise, and as you follow along with everything that happens on screen, you'll be amazed at how fluidly and realistically it flows.

    This is a perfect example of a "what if". What if this happened in your neighborhood? What if this was your uncle or father? What would you do and what would happen around you? Honestly, whatever happens, it probably wouldn't be too different than what happens in "Normal".

    A lot of the credit goes to the actors here. Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson give an amazing performance as husband and wife. The kids do an exceptional job, as well. To back it up writer and director Jane Anderson plots out this movie painstakingly, lingering at just the right moments and pulling away at just the right times.

    Overall, I highly recommend "Normal" to everyone. If you consider this a niche movie just because it handles transgender themes then your missing out because this is one of the most touching and pure love stories I have ever seen.
  • Normal is drama love story that deals with a solid foundation of a married couple which became complicated after the husband (Tom Wilkinson) confess that he believes that he was a woman that is just trapped in a man's body. I personally think that this film is very realistic, it showed how this gender identity problem can occurred even to normal people, couple and families. As for this film, Roy and Irma portrayed a very loving and religious couple, who would have thought that this kind of problem can possible happen even to almost perfect couple after more than two decades of being together. In this film, the gender identity problem was the main conflict but as you get to watch the film up to the latter part, you will realize that it's not only about the gender problem, it's more on acceptance and love for each other. It showed that no matter the circumstances, Irma accepted Roy for who he is and who he wanted to be, she loved him and supported him all the way until Roy eventually felt the self- satisfaction he always wanted. Overall this film was an awesome piece, a very touching and inspiring story for all the couple out there who are going through this tough situation in life.
  • bballk11-269-11113814 February 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    Most movies that I have seen that deal with transgender issues seem, to me, to exploit the issues and make fun of them. I like that this movie was more of a splice of life film that happened to be about a transgendered character. Roy is just a normal Midwestern farmer who works hard and loves his wife and daughter. He and his wife are beginning to get on in years, but they seem to have the perfect marriage; until we find them in a church marriage counseling room. (I did think that the couple going to counseling at their church was a good move for this movie as people in such small towns usually don't trust psychologists and want to follow the social standard of having an active church life). Roy then reveals that he has always felt like a woman, he loves his wife and family, but he has always felt wrong, or at least awkward in his own body.

    Roy and his wife, Irma are begin fighting about the issue in secret, but they keep up all public appearances even within their family as if nothing has changed. Irma is angry and wants to keep herself and their daughter separated from Roy, but two events change that. First, after Roy's father, who knows nothing of what is going on, makes fun of him because he doesn't want to inherit the farm and he was caught dressing as a girl when he was very young; and Roy walks out, a while later, when it is time to go Irma goes looking for him and he is found by her with a gun in his mouth. She gets him to return home and live with her and their daughter again. At this point she knows she cannot have him out of her life.

    The Second event, was when she is at church, singing in the choir that Roy was kicked out of, and she sees an usher saying something to Roy, who then gets up and leaves with his daughter. She knew if she walked out then, in front of everyone that she was choosing him over everything else, but she did. The small society of a town, everyone she knew, church, everything she put aside because she knew she loved him.

    This movie also didn't really take advantage of the transgender issues for comic effect, it used some of the real situations that would come up as Roy went through his process to lighten the mood without making fun of SRS. For example the daughters amusement that their her and her father's breasts were the same size.
  • tuc3247512 February 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    Normal is a human drama about a married man who makes a decision to go through a sex- change operation. He confesses to his wife that he has been struggling with a gender disorder since he was a child.

    The film without a doubt explores the life of Ruth, in the most realistic and non-glamorous way possible without eliminating its emotional connection with the audience. As a truck factory worker in a very masculine working environment, and living in a very small town that is limited in such knowledge on alternative lifestyle, Ruth struggles to be accepted, respected or even looked as a human being. His relationship with his wife is explored in a non glamorous way, and clearly sets the stands for both Ruth's and his wife Irma's character, their view on the situation and their emotional journey through the process of Ruth's sex change. The reaction from their off springs is another subject that the film succeeded in representing. Both children have different reactions to their father's decision, but relate and explain their reactions from their age and characteristics. Both Irma and Ruth have great acting that transcends their emotional journey and hardship through such less explored topics on gender in film. But the film does not take the topic of gender completely foreign and stills keeps the mood of common social issues the same way it does with other human dramas, which succeeds in making it easier for the audience to consumer.
  • Normal is a good movie that tastefully handles the difficult topic of people who go through sex changes. Given the taboo nature of the topic in film I was surprised to find that Normal does a good job of representing the real life problems and trials that people who go through sex changes experience. It also does a good job of showing how it affects the families too. In addition, Normal changes and shows a different type of love story. one rarely seen in films. The relationship between Roy and his wife is dealt with very well and the actors do an excellent job of representing their situations. The films soundtrack and cinematography are also very good. They seamlessly flow through the film however they add but never distracts from the plot or action taking place on screen. The acting is superb in the film and Wilkinson does an amazing job at capturing the feeling of the role. Overall I feel the film is very interesting and covers a difficult topic very well. It's not the type of movie I usually watch but I did enjoy it none the less. If you like more serious dramatic pieces I believe you would enjoy this film.
  • tuc7183611 February 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    The storyline of Normal is innovative, and it is certainly a good film. The acting is fantastic, so I could enjoy watching the film. I think this film is different from other genre's film since acting is vivid and the storyline is unique. Although the issue in the film is a little heavy, some of the scenes in the film use a lighter way to portray it. The way of how Ruth tells his co-worker that he is going do the sex operation is amusing; therefore, mood of the film is consider not too heavy. Also, the make- up and costumes of Ruth is very natural for me. Ruth might be considering as transvestite before doing the sex-change operation; however, Ruth's make- up and costume is not too exaggerated. As a result, the film deserved the Emmy Award (Make Up). In my opinion, the theme of the film is love, and people can overcome many difficult situations by the power of love. Also, family stands an extremely important influence in everyone's life. Irma's love and support for Ruth illustrates love can actually overcome the difficulties in your life. I think this film is appealing to everyone since the mood in the film is light.
  • tuc3504310 February 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    This film depicts the story of a man who struggles to have sex reassignment surgery in his fifties. Despite his wife and family's opposition, he is determined to have his sex change. He confesses that since he was young, he felt like he was born in the wrong body and he thinks he is a woman. The story is simple, but in a way not very realistic. It seems too sudden for Roy to become so eager to live the rest of his life as a woman, despite the 25-years of marriage and 50+ years of hiding. Personally, I think the story will be more realistic if scenes of his past history of eagerness and struggles to be a woman are shown.

    Yet, acting is fantastic, especially for Irma, which compensates for the weakness of the story. She cannot accept the fact in the beginning when she just finds out that her husband wants to have SRS. She accepts gradually and even supports him, to me, it is a very considerate act. Audiences properly burst into tears for the immeasurable love the couple has for each other. The ending is vaguely presented, and the consequence after the surgery is absent. I think this is done on purpose so the story leaves a question to the audience which is " What result do you think the couple deserve?" It is not the best ending, but may be the most decent one.

    In general, the film is a good one. Bottomless love is strongly emphasized and the acting makes the film works, despite of the not very realistic story.
  • Normal is a drama film, in America which was released in 2003 by HBO Film. The film was written and directed by Jane Anderson. I like the movie because of the acting and the some technical qualities are really outstanding. In the film, Roy is a female who was born in a male body. He tries to face his real gender bravely after gets married with Irma for 25 years. Since he feels some struggle of being a man, he starts wearing woman's clothes, dresses and earrings in order to achieve his satisfaction; however, he is discriminated by everyone.

    I think this film would satisfied the fans of this genre because it shows some problems that transgender people usually face in the real society. Also, it is not easy to predict the plot and the ending of the film. For example, Roy's wife sometimes encourage Roy to be what he is but sometimes cannot accept the fact and want her "real husband" back. Camera angle is really wonderful. The director uses many "zoom in" effect to lead audience follow emotions more. In the birthday party of Roy's father, the camera move into Roy slowly while he is crying. Not only these days, transgender and transsexual people are usually get discriminated by the public. They also need to take many kinds of medicine which is really unhealthy for them. For example, Roy takes medicine in order to make his breast bigger and fill for his satisfaction.

    All in all, this is a lovely and touching film. Roy's family accept the fact supportably which represents that they love Roy a lot no matter how he is. Moreover, I think the society should not discriminate these people since they were born in this way.
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