The one thing that kills Freeheld is that despite it being a fairly solid film, with a number of good performances, it can never live up to how powerful the documentary of the same name was nearly a decade ago.
The film is the fictionalization of the events behind Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore), a lesbian police officer dying of cancer. She wants something simple: to leave her pension benefits to her domestic partner (Ellen Page). The film follows Hester’s fight to have it done, with an activist (Steve Carell) joining their fight.
The short, which is included in the Blu-Ray release, tackles the situation much more effectively because we get to see the real life people during the ordeal. While the dramatization of it is solid, as this is a reasonably good film, seeing the original short gives it the human aspect that the film can’t quite provide.
If there hadn’t been a documentary short on the subject already this would be a perfectly acceptable look at this subject. Unfortunately the film doesn’t quite have the emotional punch of the short. Seeing Hester and her partner fight, and the emotional toll, is much more powerful than seeing Moore and Page. For as much chemistry as they have … nothing comes close to the raw power of the documentary.
I can see why they wanted to make the film. This is a great love story marred by death, of course, and the fight for equality. However it didn’t feel necessary; we got everything we needed in the short and this feels redundant.
The documentary short of the same name is included and is a must watch. A couple EPK pieces and a director’s commentary round out the extras.
Lionsgate presents Freeheld . Directed by Peter Sollett. Written by Ron Nyswaner based on the short Freeheld by Cynthia Wade. Starring Michael Shannon, Ellen Page, Julianne Moore, Steve Carell. Run Time:103 minutes Rated R. Released on DVD: 2.2.16
Tags: ellen page, Freeheld, Julianne Moore, Steve Carell