Directed by Carl Bessai
"Normal" is one of those films that I really don't think I'll ever see again. Honestly. Remember in my write ups for films like "Under the Same Moon," and "When Did You Last See Your Father?" I said that both films took a story that we've seen a million times, but ended up being a success simply because they were well written, acted, directed, etc. "Normal" is not well acted, it has a script that is all based on contrivances and cliche, and is directed by Carl Bessai, who is trying to be much more dramatic than he is able to, and I could see him trying to manipulate his audience to a high degree-and I think most of the audience actually bought it.
"Normal" reminded me of a much better film that I saw at Tribeca Film Festival called "Take," which still refuses to find distribution-although it does have a rating, which is a good sign. Both films revolve around several characters after a tragic accident. Here it is the death of Catherine's son, Nicky-Catherine is played by Carrie Ann Moss who is in full soap opera mode here, a step below some of the better work she's been doing of late. Catherine never seemed to be able to recover from the death, and her husband and other son are getting annoying. We track away from Catherine's story to focus on Jordie, a friend of her dead son that just got out of juvie, and has returned to his father's home. His father literally wants to disown him, while his step mom is happy to have somebody around-especially when the two start an affair. And then there's a story about another family, where the patiarch is schoolteacher that begins an affair with a TV weather girl. And then finally there is a story about the schoolteacher's brother, an autistic man who hasn't left his house in two years.
All of these characters are indeed somewhat connected to the accident that killed Catherine's son, but the question really is "who cares about all these little side stories about them?" Bessai's script really exists just to connect them all in every way possible, and even though all of the connections make sense, they are all far to contrived to really care about. None of the acting is subtle. I can compare Carrie Ann Moss's work here to Signorny Weaver's work in "The Girl in the Park," only Weaver actually brought human qualities to this woman living in denial and horror. Moss is putting such a small amount of effort, but her screenplay really doesn't give her much to work with. Bessai tries to make every scene edgy and intense, but it becomes laughable and even a little corny. I didn't care about any of the side stories, or the characters, and by the end I had just had enough. This is real indie "schlock," for lack of a better word, and I can't see it getting picked up. It doesn't have any foundation under it, and its a real flop.