Their fight was courageous and set a precedent, and Moore and Page are phenomenal in the lead roles
Sexism, ageism and diversity are topics constantly debated by certain areas of Hollywood. The general consensus is that if you’re a woman of a certain age you’re going to find it hard to win roles, ditto if you’re gay, with the scandal surrounding the lack of black stars nominated for the 2016 Oscars also raging.
Against this backdrop, director Peter Sollett would seemingly be quids in with his new release Freeheld, which stars Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as a lesbian couple battling for the same rights offered to their heterosexual counterparts.
Freeheld is based on the true story of Laurel Hester, who at the beginning of the film is a badass cop determined to be taken seriously be her male contemporaries.
This is the reason she’s hidden her sexual orientation from them, with even her work partner Dane Wells (Michael Shannon) none the wiser about her home life.
Then Laurel meets the much younger Stacie Andree (Ellen Page), a car mechanic who blows her world wide open. Although she initially struggles with her feelings, Laurel eventually realises there should be no reason to hide that she’s in love. The couple become domestic partners – marriage isn’t an option for them yet – and move in together.
It’s then that Laurel discovers she has late stage lung cancer. While Stacie tries to remain upbeat about her chances of survival Laurel is only too aware she’s dying, and so the battle to have Stacie recognised as her partner and therefore able to benefit from her pension – as husbands and wives of dead cops can – begins.
There is no doubt that Laurel and Stacie’s story is remarkable and should be told. Although gay marriage is now recognised in many countries, the world has a way to go before it’s truly accepting. Their fight was courageous and set a precedent, and Moore and Page are phenomenal in the lead roles.
Unfortunately, there are some issues with the rest of the movie. Steve Carell stars as the flamboyant Steven Goldstein, a LGBT activist who sees their cause as a great way of hammering home his message.
He plays the part well, but it’s a shame Goldstein is quite so stereotypical – camp gestures and tongue-in-cheek humour included.
There also seems little reason why so much time is devoted to seeing Laurel’s male colleagues struggling to cope with her orientation – surely those scenes would have been better spent on the real task in hand?
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