Freeheld is an uneven drama that frequently veers from tragedy to drudgery. Which is a shame, since its true story – of homosexual policewoman, Laurel Hester – is both fascinating and vital. Arriving hot on the heels of the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the US, this otherwise unremarkable film represents a missed opportunity.
The film chronicles cancer-stricken Hester’s (Julianne Moore) fight to transfer her pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree (Ellen Page). These two ladies are fine actresses but there is surprising lack of chemistry between them. I suspect the tepid script is to blame. In particular the inept attempt at ‘meet cute’ romance almost derails the film in the first half-hour. Thankfully things recover when Hester turns her attention to battling lung cancer and conservative politicians. She is ably supported by her gruff work colleague (Michael Shannon), and a flamboyant LGBT rights campaigner (Steve Carell, whose comic relief shtick is unnecessary and distracting).
I get the impression Freeheld may have been rushed to market to capitalise on current events. But while the film’s political agenda tends to dilute the quiet, personal moments, it does build to a moving climax that highlights a rousing moral victory for the LGBTIQ community.