Stock up on tissues. "The Normal Heart," Larry Kramer's film adaptation of his play, is beyond devastating, as it chronicles the early days of the AIDS crisis and a group of activists largely ignored by the world.

Mark Ruffalo plays Ned Weeks, a writer with the best of intentions, but also the biggest of egos. Kramer, who loosely based Weeks on himself, deserves credit for exposing his own flaws, not the least of which is his knack for yelling too loud and thereby losing his way.

Ironically, that's also the one significant problem with the film. Director Ryan Murphy grants just about every cast member a chance to rant and rave to the point where the movie starts to feel like a string of primal-scream therapy sessions.

Of course, once you get to the closing credits and see the damage AIDS has done over the past 30 years, you might want to do some shouting of your own.

Neal Justin