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
) 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