Normal (2003 film)

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Normal FilmPoster.jpeg
Based onLooking for Normal
by Jane Anderson
Written byJane Anderson
Directed byJane Anderson
StarringJessica Lange
Tom Wilkinson
Music byAlex Wurman
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducersThomas J. Busch
Cary Brokaw
Lydia Dean Pilcher
CinematographyAlar Kivilo
EditorLisa Fruchtman
Running time110 minutes
Production companiesHBO Films
Avenue Pictures
Original networkHBO
Original release
  • January 21, 2003 (2003-01-21) (Sundance)

Normal is a 2003 American made-for-television drama film produced by HBO Films, which became an official selection at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.[1] Jane Anderson, the film's writer and director, adapted her own play, Looking for Normal. The film is about a fictional Midwestern factory worker named Roy Applewood, who stuns his wife of 25 years by saying he wishes to undergo sex reassignment surgery and transition to a woman.

In an HBO interview, Anderson was asked "Were you drawing on any sources when you were researching this? Or was it purely out of your imagination?", to which she replied "Oh, it's my imagination, it's all fiction." She also said that she wanted to use the play "as a metaphor for a study of marriage", calling transition the "ultimate betrayal".[2]


Roy Applewood (Tom Wilkinson), after fainting on the night of 25th marriage anniversary, shocks his wife Irma (Jessica Lange) by revealing plans to transition into a woman named Ruth. While Ruth tries to keep the family together, Irma's initial reaction is to separate from her. Patty Ann (Hayden Panettiere), their daughter, is more accepting, but Wayne (Joseph Sikora), their son, struggles with the transition. He mocks Ruth after receiving an explanation letter.

The movie follows the fictitious story of the character Ruth in the depiction of her transition. She buys women's clothes, wears earrings and puts on perfume. She finds graffiti on her truck "You are not normal". Her mother decides not to tell her father. She is kicked out of church choir. Irma finds Ruth in the barn with a gun to her head. She invites her back home. Her teen daughter just got her period and doesn't like being a girl. Son Wayne comes home for Thanksgiving and ends up in a fist fight with Ruth. The son yells obscenities at her and then cries in her arms. After a year passes she goes in for surgery with full support of Irma.

Ruth faces ostracism at church and at work. She finds understanding from her boss, Frank, but not from her minister. In the end, Irma discovers that love transcends gender and the family survives.



Robert Pardi of TV Guide, reviewed the film and stated "Writer-director Jane Anderson tries to shoehorn her own play into the TV-tragedy", "but it's an awkward fit" and "Although the performances are superb, the film's detachment doesn't suit the bizarre material".[3]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 100% based on 7 reviews, and an average rating of 7.2/10.[4]

Andrea from noted "outstanding job of illustrating the main difficulties faced by blue-collar transsexual women in small towns" and the film contained "surprising amount of appropriate humor".[1]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Normal was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, won one Primetime Emmy Award and was nominated for another five.

Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson both received acting nominations for the Golden Globe, Primetime Emmy, and Satellite Awards.[5]

Year Association Category Nominee Result
2003 Primetime Emmy Awards[6] Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Tom Wilkinson Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Jessica Lange Nominated
Outstanding Made for Television Movie Normal Nominated
Outstanding Main Title Design Antoine Tinguely, Jasmine Jodry, Jakob Trollbeck, Laurent Fauchere Nominated
Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special Hallie D'Amore, Linda Melazzo, Dorothy J. Pearl Won
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special Jane Anderson[7][8] Nominated
2004 Directors Guild of America[9] Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movie for Television Jane Anderson Nominated
GLAAD Media Awards[10] Outstanding Television Movie or Miniseries Normal Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[11] Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Tom Wilkinson Nominated
Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Jessica Lange Nominated
Best Miniseries or Television Film Normal Nominated
Gracie Allen Awards[12] Best Female Lead – Dramatic Special Jessica Lange Won
Satellite Awards[13] Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Tom Wilkinson Nominated
Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Jessica Lange Nominated
Best Miniseries or Television Film Normal Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b James, Andrea (January 21, 2003). "Film review: Jane Anderson's "Normal"". Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  2. ^ "HBO Online Exclusive Interview with Jane Anderson". HBO. Archived from the original on February 5, 2009.
  3. ^ Pardi, Robert. "Normal, TV Guide". Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  4. ^ "Normal". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  5. ^ Jerry Roberts Encyclopedia of Television Film Directors, p. 8, at Google Books
  6. ^ "Primetime Emmy Awards (2003)". IMDb. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  7. ^ "Me and My Emmy: Jane Anderson". Television Academy. February 26, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  8. ^ Neil Landau The Screenwriter’s Roadmap: 21 Ways to Jumpstart Your Story, p. 16, at Google Books
  9. ^ "Directors Guild of America, USA (2004)". IMDb. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  10. ^ "GLAAD Media Awards (2004)". IMDb. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  11. ^ "Golden Globes, USA (2004)". IMDb. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  12. ^ "Gracie Allen Awards (2004)". IMDb. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
  13. ^ "Satellite Awards (2004)". IMDb. Retrieved February 10, 2014.

External links[edit]