After feinting at their 25th wedding anniversary party, Roy breaks the news to his wife that he has always been a woman living in a man’s body and wants to transition

#1- Films in the category of Transgender

Normal (2003)

Director: Jane Anderson
Written by: Jane Anderson
Starring: Tom Wilkinson and Jessica Lange

I begin this review with a few details that I think may be relevant to my review and opinions. However, the topic of the film is a universal one and that is where I believe my British nationality, social and cultural upbringing should not affect my point of view. I refer more to my lack of knowledge and understanding of life in the Midwest of America and farming communities around 2003 when the film was made.

This Made-for-TV film was nominated in 15 categories during the 2003/4 award season. Normal is filmed largely inside a close religious and farming community, starting in winter time of the Midwest of America. It focuses on the lives of Roy, Irma and teenage daughter Patty-Ann, when Roy’s breaks the news that he is a woman in a man’s body. Subsequently, Roy declares his need to transition to Irma. Scenes of fields with long lines of seedlings appear throughout the film giving a sense of the passing of time throughout.

I found Normal a deeply moving, powerful and emotional film. Personally, I could relate to Roy’s issues which made the film interesting but also sad for me. The film deals with Roy’s decision to transition with great sincerity and feeling. Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson are well cast and give believable performances as does Hayden Panettiere in the role of their daughter. If I had one criticism of the script, it is in the way that Irma deals with life and the relationship, once knowing about Roy’s choice. I will concede, that during the span of a film, that Jane Anderson may have chosen to show positives and not just paint a picture of pain and suffering. Hence, rendering the story a little weak for me at points

Very early into the film, we go from the cozy comfort of a couple with 25 years of ‘happy marriage’ and two children, to strong scenes of emotional impact as the story deals with the revelation of Roy’s choice to transition. As we accompany Roy and Irma through their journey, the film depicts the lack of understanding and empathy Roy faces at work and socially. The church does not come out of this very well either, with the absurdity of the pastor’s advice. Although, I\’m sure this was as much to show the lack of knowledge in a farming community and in general. Perhaps, why so many chose to keep their life hidden.

In conclusion, the script, casting and acting are commendable and are the reasons why it raised interest and nominations in the film industry. It shows how his daughter copes with the changes in her life in a very positive and sympathetic way. Young people are more open and willing to learn, maybe? It illustrates the intolerance of Roy’s appearance within his community. It conveys how his wife processes ‘losing’ her husband after 25 years of marriage. His perspective and the complexities that challenged him are conveyed well throughout. The impact on his family, work colleagues, and community are also convincingly painful. The compassion and love shown by his mother at the end of the film is endearing. Overall, the script, casting and acting are commendable and are the reasons why it raised interest and nominations in the film industry.

A highly recommend watch!

Sophie’s Rating:  9/10

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I began this journey the day I opened my eyes for the very first time. I found this site at a time when I needed support more than any other point in my life. I had chosen to transition after years of internal turmoil, failing to be able understand or accept who and what I was. My life moved on at a pace that I found hard to deal with at times, but I managed. Living alone in the South West of France life was far from simple or easy then. Then, I discovered this oasis online, finding love, understanding and support unequalled to anything I have previously come across. Dare I suggest, my other family! So, why return after leaving about two years back? At the point, my life was moving at a pace that I was just about able to keep up with; everything I had believed, understood and built my life around, up until that point, changed almost overnight. I am very settled in my life now living as a woman, with friends and a social life, all while being the happiest I have been. I am in the medical system here after overcoming many obstacles, now with the hope of surgery this year to complete my transition. I have returned here in the hope that my experiences and knowledge can be of help to others in this community. When very young, I dreamed of being a girl, going to bed at night hoping I would awake as a girl. After realising that wasn't going to happen, I shut down that wish and lived a repressed existence from that day. It took a lifetime of unintentionally hurting myself and others, regretfully! Perhaps that's the one true regret of my life!

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Araminta Purdy
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Araminta Purdy (@araminta)
18 days ago

I remember, “Normal”. Exceedingly well-acted, thorough, almost brutally honest and accurate, exceptionally perceptive even then and it did have a rather good, even triumphant, ending. Perhaps one of the best motion pictures dealing with the issue so far.

Araminta.

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