Palette Magazine

In Tune: Ellen Page and Julianne Moore in Freeheld

By Gregg Shapiro

Photo: © Phil Caruso / Courtesy of Lionsgate

Based on a true story, Freeheld (Summit) begins with a 2002 headline-making drug bust by detective Laurel (Julianne Moore) and her partner Dane (Michael Shannon). Laurel, a control-freak with Farrah Fawcett-by-way-of-New Jersey hair, has been in the force for more than 20 years. Good at her job, but less successful in love, Laurel is intent on making lieutenant, which forces her to stay closeted. That is until she meets Stacie (Ellen Page) at a volleyball game in Pennsylvania. The set-up scenes that follow, including those in which Laurel and Stacie’s relationship develops into something long-lasting, are sluggish, awkward and preachy (almost everyone who sees Freeheld is already well versed in the subject of LGBT discrimination, thank you).

It isn’t until Laurel is diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer that the movie picks up a bit. Registered as domestic partners long before Laurel becomes ill, her request to make Stacie the recipient of her pension benefits is nonetheless repeatedly denied by the force. Following a front-page story about their plight, gay lawyer and Garden State Equality activist Steven (Steve Carrell) gets involved.

The screenplay, which is written by Ron Nyswaner (Oscar-nominee for Philadelphia), is more than a little problematic, but the acting, especially the performances from Page and Moore, is pretty decent. Special features on the Blu-ray/DVD/digital release include the Oscar-winning documentary short by the same name, featurettes and audio commentary.

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