Normal People

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Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal) in Normal People. (Photo: Hulu/Showmax)
Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal) in Normal People. (Photo: Hulu/Showmax)

SHOW:

Normal People

WHERE TO WATCH:

Showmax

OUR RATING:

5/5 Stars

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:

The story follows Marianne and Connell, from different backgrounds but the same small town in Ireland, as they weave in and out of each other's romantic lives and start to grow up.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

Oh, the lies we were sold about love. The fake fantasies we were told about finding our happily ever after at first sight.

When a spark ignites between Connell (Paul Mescal) and Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones), it’s flamed by lust. A secret sexual exploration follows that sees the high school lovers hiding their intimate encounters behind closed doors and in the backseat of parked cars.

Although both Connell and Marianne know that they feel something, it’s difficult for them to quantify their emotions under a veil of secrecy. They struggle to make sense of their feelings which seem to teeter between sexual tension and a deepfelt affection for each other.

Their steamy meetups are captured artfully with breathtaking cinematography that focuses on the interconnectedness between our protagonists. Their nude bodies intertwined and bathed in sunlight and shadows. Connell’s silver chain effortlessly resting around his throat rises and falls as his breathing increases drastically with each touch. Aroused and curious the couple explore each other’s warm skin with soft lips while whispering seductive wishes. So authentic are these intimate scenes it’s impossible to imagine they were meticulously choreographed.

Alone and in their private moments, the couple seem content and safe. It’s when they venture into the real world that they become indescribably uncomfortable in each other’s presence. Sometimes when our dreams meet our reality, they feel out of place and foreign. As Connell and Marianne traverse life, their paths split and cross again through various phases in their lives. The viewer is gently passed from one protagonist to the next as we follow different narratives through the eyes of two very different characters that sometimes, only momentarily, seem to be in sync.

As Marianne and Connell step into adulthood, they face a myriad of challenges in forming their own identities outside the safety of the bubble in which they grew up. Who are we when we are out on our own? What do we believe, and how has our past shaped our view of both our present and our future? That which ones seemed so important now seems ridiculously trivial.

Normal People, an adaptation of the best-selling 2018 novel by Sally Rooney, explores the complicated reality of simply existing while falling in and out of love with others and ourselves. The mundaneness of living is so much more intricate than we would ever allow ourselves to admit. "Normal" here becomes a word to express the reality of simply being people.

The threads of our existence spun throughout our lives become entangled with those of others that cross our paths by some divine intervention. Sometimes those tightly pulled strands can be snipped right off, while the rest become a wound-up mess that we can never untangle ourselves from, no matter how hard we try.

This 12-part series, directed by Lenny Abrahamson and Hettie Macdonald, is a masterful art piece that beautifully tells the story of negotiating the complexity of being. It so skillfully illustrates the endless war between our hearts and our minds as we crave the one thing that we most desire – to love and be loved.

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