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89 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Ray and Irma are a devoted couple living a normal life in rural Illinois, until Roy decides that his life must change and confesses to Irma that he's a woman trapped in a man's body. Now Roy must face their friends, his coworkers and his own children with the whole new way of life he has planned - and they must face him. What happens to a town, a factory and a loving marriage when confronted with such a transformation is all about being who you are, being in love, and simply being normal.

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

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jane Anderson
  • Cast & Director Bios
  • Chapter, Audio and Subtitle Selection

Product Details

  • Actors: Clancy Brown, Hayden Panettiere, Jessica Lange, Tom Wilkinson
  • Directors: Jane Anderson
  • Writers: Jane Anderson
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: HBO Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 6, 2009
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AYJV8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,811 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Normal" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Marty From SF HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 13, 2004
Format: DVD
Roy (Tom Wilkinson) and Irma (Jessica Lange) are a normal farm family with an estranged son and a teenage daughter. After their 25th wedding anniversary, Roy confesses that he is a woman trapped in a mans body. At this point, I expected things to get absurd, including the predictability that we will see Roy in drag. However, Director/Writer Jane Anderson allows all ssues to come the forefront; family, friends, religion, coworkers and community. What seems a destiny for ruination is full of surprises and Anderson can humble the viewer by showing how anyone can be easily misunderstood. The performances by Wilkinson and especially Lange are nothing short of amazing. The emotions run high, vivid and clear as each person struggles with this abrupt revelation that affects everyone's life. This is a precise study of empathy, understanding, the testing of relationships and most importantly - love.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 30, 2004
Format: DVD
"Normal" is a film where the performances by Tom Wilkinson and Jessica Lange are so much better than the script. This is not to say that the script by writer-director Jane Anderson is inadequate, but rather than Wilkinson and Lange give it a power and grace that transcends what was on the printed page. Wilkinson, a veteran character actor who suddenly seems to be in half the films coming out (Jim Broadhurst is usually in the other half), plays Roy Applewood, who has been married for 25 years to Lange's Irma and who finally reveals his deepest and darkest secret: he feels like a woman trapped in a man's body.
To say that this comes as a shock to everyone is an understatement. Roy is the foreman at a plant that manufactures tractors and a pillar of his church. He is also married to Irma, who, like the actress who plays her, has gotten sexier as she has gotten older. When the church throws an anniversary party for the couple Roy kisses his wife and faints. In a counseling session with their pastor (Randall Arney), Roy finally confesses that he is a woman. The fact that Roy says this in such a matter of fact manner, without the slightest trace of any affectation that would suggest being gay, is what makes "Normal" such an offbeat look at a somewhat offbeat subject.
This is not a sensationalistic treatment of the transgender topic (remember the lurid film "The Christina Jorgenson Story"?). The script is clearly sympathetic, but also manages to tell the story with a wry sensibility and to reach a level of depth that we usually do not find in such films, which tend to veer towards sensationalism and/or melodrama. This is because despite the fact that Roy starts taking female hormones so that he can grow breasts he still loves his wife.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Hikari on January 9, 2006
Format: DVD
"Normal" attempts to tackle a highly complex issue in the space of a feature-length movie, and this limitation makes it not a wholly successful effort. The sheer complexity of transgender issues warrants a miniseries treatment such asn HBO did for AIDS in the gay community with "Angels in America", and if "Normal" has a weakness, it's that it tried to cram too much into too brief a space. However, as the first serious dramatic treatment of a transgendered person's unique challenges, "Normal" deserves kudos, not the least for the brave performances from Tom Wilkinson & Jessica Lange. Ms. Lange in particular has a very difficult role, perched on the razor's edge between feelings of love & betrayal, and she captures this inner war brilliantly. Her face reflects all the conflicting emotions of anger, grief, bewilderment & pain, leavened with flashes of wry amusement at the ridiculousness of her situation, with grace & never, ever overacting or seeming to try too hard. Even though Tom Wilkinson's character, Roy, is the one facing the biggest outward changes, Lange reminds us that internal changes can be just as transforming, though not as evident. Her performance is the centerpiece of the film. She has gotten even more luminously beautiful over the years; we reason that if she, as his wife, can't make Roy glad he's a man, then he must really be serious.

As Roy, the catalyst for all this family trauma, Tom Wilkinson has more of a one-note performance; it seems that having made up his mind, despite 50-odd years of cultural conditioning to the contrary, Roy never looks back or even feels a twinge of doubt or regret over what he's about to do. We feel sympathy for Roy, but not nearly as much as we do for his wife, if only because we don't feel we know him as well.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
Contradictory though it may be, this film is simultaneously inaccurate and truthful.
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.
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