Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) is a detective from New Jersey who is really having an issue being promoted because she is a woman. Laurel also has a secret of her own that nobody she works with is aware of. She is a lesbian and she does not tell anyone she works with because she feels that will hurt her even more with a possible promotion. Laurel meets Stacie (Ellen Page), a young woman who falls in love with Laurel. After Laurel is diagnosed with terminal cancer, she is pretty certain that she will die and she wants to give her benefits to Stacie. After being denied by county officials, long-time partner of Laurel Dane (Michael Shannon) does everything in his power to help out Laurel and make sure Stacie can receive the benefits. Then big-time activist Steven (Steve Carell) finds out about this and turns this case into a national fight for equality.
I was really excited to see Freeheld because I love the cast and thought that this was going to be a potential Oscar nominated movie. Sadly, I left the theater more disappointed than I did happy. While this was definitely not a very happy movie and you pretty much just watch this woman die, it could have been slightly more enjoyable. The major problem with this movie is that it could never really figure out which type of movie it wanted to be. It started out being a woman’s fight to have her partner receive her benefits and then the second half of the movie turned into a fight for equality for the gay community. The first half of this movie is much more enjoyable and then it just turns into a whole different thing.
The acting in this movie was pretty fantastic and I really cannot complain about that at all. Julianne Moore once again gave one of the best performances of her career as Laurel Hester. The same goes with Ellen Page. She was incredible in this and n my pinion, she is one of the more underrated actresses that are in the business today. The two of them together worked great as a team and I think it was an excellent casting job. Michael Shannon seems to be in almost every new movie. I think in the past few weeks I have seen him in about 4/5 of the movies I have seen and I am perfectly ok with that. He is awesome and I really like how he is taking on some different roles.
All Freeheld does is try to tell a well-meaning story and they lose track of trying to do so in the second half of the film. While it definitely had its intentions in the right places, it absolutely falls short of being a well-made and solid movie. I think a lot of the blame for this goes towards the director, Peter Sollett. While I have not really seen all that much of his work, there is really no reason why you can not make an incredible film with the cast you are given. This falls short of everything that could possibly make it great and that is a shame because I believe that with a better director, this movie could be one that has Oscar potential. Freeheld absolutely has its heart in the right place, but falls short of being a good film.
Overall, Freeheld is a movie that absolutely had some serious potential and went absolutely nowhere with it. Besides the outstanding acting, Freeheld is one that is more of a huge disappointment.