Freeheld

 

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A New Jersey detective is forced to acknowledge her sexuality when events conspire to 

transform her world. Based on the true story of Laurel Hester, played here (brilliantly) by Julianne Moore.

 

Last year Julianne Moore won an Oscar for playing a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s. She’s now playing a victim of a very different stripe. She is New Jersey detective Laurel Hester and the proud same-sex partner of Stacie Andree (Ellen Page). Moore has also recently played an egotistical movie star with chronic constipation and, in Savage Grace, a mother who seduces her son (played by Eddie Redmayne), not to mention the lesbians she portrayed in The Hours, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Chloe and The Kids Are All Right. Is there a braver actress in Hollywood?

 

Freeheld

Becoming oneself: Julianne Moore and Ellen Page

 

In spite of rather sketchy back stories for the central characters, Peter Sollett's Freeheld is a more credible drama than Still Alice (for which Moore won her Oscar), and a good deal more moving. It helps, of course, that Laurel Hester is a true character and that Ellen Page is so damned good as the younger lesbian, perhaps a part even harder to play as Ms Page publicly came out herself in 2014. It should also be noted that she is the film’s main producer. Michael Shannon contributes male ballast as Laurel’s professional partner, while Steve Carell adds some welcome light relief as a gay legal activist. In all, it’s an emotive, eloquent and even funny drama and a testament to the skills of its superior cast.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael Shannon, Steve Carell, Luke Grimes, Josh Charles.

 

Dir Peter Sollett, Pro Ellen Page, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, James D. Stern and Cynthia Wade, Screenplay Ron Nyswaner, Ph Maryse Alberti, Pro Des Jane Musky, Ed Andrew Mondshein, Music Hans Zimmer and Johnny Marr, Costumes Stacey Battat.

 

Endgame Entertainment-Entertainment One.

103 mins. USA. 2015. Rel: 19 February 2016. Cert. 12A.