Normal (2003 film)
|Directed by||Jane Anderson|
|Produced by||Thomas J. Busch|
Lydia Dean Pilcher
|Written by||Jane Anderson|
|Music by||Alex Wurman|
|Edited by||Lisa Fruchtman|
|Distributed by||HBO Films|
Normal is a 2003 drama film produced by HBO Films, which became an official selection at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. 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 says that she wanted to use it as a metaphor for a study of marriage, calling transition the "ultimate betrayal".
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.
- Jessica Lange as Irma Applewood
- Tom Wilkinson as Ruth Applewood
- Clancy Brown as Frank
- Hayden Panettiere as Patty Ann Applewood
- Joseph Sikora as Wayne Applewood
- Richard Bull as Roy Applewood, Sr.
- Mary Seibel as Em Applewood
- Randall Arney as Reverend Dale Muncie
- Rondi Reed as Roy's Sister Beth
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".
Andrea from transgendermap.com 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".
Awards and nominations
- James, Andrea (January 21, 2003). "Film review: Jane Anderson's "Normal"". www.transgendermap.com. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- "HBO Online Exclusive Interview with Jane Anderson". HBO. Archived from the original on February 5, 2009.
- Pardi, Robert. "Normal, TV Guide". TVGuide.com. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- "Normal". Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- Jerry Roberts Encyclopedia of Television Film Directors, p. 8, at Google Books
- "Primetime Emmy Awards (2003)". IMDb. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- "Me and My Emmy: Jane Anderson". Television Academy. February 26, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- Neil Landau The Screenwriter’s Roadmap: 21 Ways to Jumpstart Your Story, p. 16, at Google Books
- "Directors Guild of America, USA (2004)". IMDb. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- "GLAAD Media Awards (2004)". IMDb. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- "Golden Globes, USA (2004)". IMDb. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- "Gracie Allen Awards (2004)". IMDb. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
- "Satellite Awards (2004)". IMDb. Retrieved February 10, 2014.