Release Date: October 2, 2015
Director: Peter Sollett
Writer: Ron Nyswaner (screenplay)
Cast: Ellen Page, Julianne Moore, Josh Charles, Steve Carell, Michael Shannon, Luke Grimes, Mary Birdsong, Dennis Boutsikaris, Skipp Sudduth, Gabriel Luna, Jeannine Kasper, Tom McGowan, April Szykeruk, Anthony DeSando, Mina Sundwall, Stink Fisher, Suzanne Savoy, Kevin O’Rourke, Robbie Tann, Jess Jacobs
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 103 minutes
Production Company: Double Feature Films, Endgame Entertainment, High Frequency Entertainment, Head Gear Films, Metrol Technology, Lionsgate (USA)
Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance
Based on actual events that occurred in 2005, Freeheld is a wonderful, yet a sad story about the necessity of equality and loving your neighbor. Buckle up, because the performances are moving, and they pull your emotions from your chest. Director Peter Sollett (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) brought out the best of the talent he had to choose from. He presented a strong innocence that your heart has no choice but to like. The film has a strong character build-up and a rich cast to support the weight of the script. It opens your eyes to the world of optimism and joy, and reassures you that everything’s going to be OK.
The strong talent mentioned earlier belongs to the incredible Julianne Moore (Laurel Hester), and Ellen Page (Stacie Andree). They play the same-sex couple living in New Jersey, their relationship starting out quite strongly at the beginning of the movie. The director and the cast did a fine job selling the love story. I could feel the relationship growing, for their love appeared pure and unconditional. Hester and Andree are people just like everyone else, who simply want to be happy. Although, this happiness of theirs comes to a halt when Hester is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
I think the strongest piece of this film is the passing of time. As each month goes by, the growth of Hester’s cancer becomes increasingly apparent. Julianne Moore seems to have put her last breath into every take. A job well done by Moore and Page—their phenomenal acting—makes it all believable. Dane Wells (Michael Shannon) also had an important role to play in the mix. His character represents straightforwardness, showing that there’s a difference between your own beliefs and what’s right and wrong. He and Steven Goldstein (Steve Carell) together were a nice contrast on screen. The amount of screen time spent on a dark and a gloomy man in contrast to an upbeat happy fellow created a nice balance to the storytelling.
The story handled many sensitive issues. The script dealt with the grey area, neither choosing the black nor the white side. So many questions arise in your mind regarding tradition vs. justice and support. You sympathize with the situation as you’re able to relate from a human element. It wasn’t selfish, and only asked what was needed instead of what was desired. It’s this notion that may open/change one’s heart, as it did with a number of the real life citizens.
The director knew exactly how to wrap it all up in a fancy paper, adding a nice bow on top. Towards the end, the story neatly fell into place, allowing the bigger picture to be recognized by the public. While each is different from the next, it’s a moment everyone can take something from. It demonstrates what’s most important in life or whatever your own personal fulfillment is. I enjoyed every moment of Freeheld and I almost shed a tear, too. Going into the film, I didn’t know what to expect, but I walked out beyond satisfied. I’m glad I was able to see it and I recommend it to everyone. It’s a great film and an example of what can be accomplished if prejudging doesn’t exist.