Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore), a loyal police lieutenant serving Ocean County, New Jersey, for more than 23 years, has kept her sexuality a secret from her workplace until realising that she just might die from terminal lung cancer and wants her domestic partner, Stacie Andree (Ellen Page), to receive her pension, so that she can keep the house that they renovated together.
The film starts off relatively mediocre in what can be seen as an attempt at attracting sympathy between the couple as the film goes on. With love scenes and what I could describe as possibly the driest, and laziest attempt at articulating a love relationship between two individuals—a crappy house renovating/tender love-making montage that elicited no on-screen chemistry whatsoever. I also had a problem with the way that the film had to justify Stacie as the butch lesbian because she likes motorcycles, works in mechanics and likes dogs. Stacie is obviously younger, but Ellen Page’s portrayal is more childlike and mopey, rather than showing any real feeling toward her partner, who is dying and fighting for this pension battle for most of the film’s duration. What’s the point?
Where the film probably gets its title, is likely due to the relationship its dying protagonist has with the freeholders who get to make a decision on whether her domestic partner is allowed to have her pension when she passes…or not. Obviously, at this time, around 2005 or 2006, gay marriage was not as legalised all over the United States like it is now. So it seems this film tries to be lots of different things, but it comes to nothing, feeling irrelevant in 2015 or even 2016. The battle is already won, so what is the motive? A critique at Republicans dominating law and order? I don’t know. There’s a lot of long-winded politics in this film, which feels more dry as it goes on, and Steve Carrell introduces himself as Steven Goldstein—a “big gay Jew” and rallies for gay marriage even though Laurel Hester just wants her equality and her goddamn pension. So which is it? A political film or a love story? Because it can’t be both. But what it can be is an exemplar film for True Movies, because it is so dry, boring and dull that I would never ever ever want to talk about it ever again because I hate political films. Especially when they’re outdated. And Ellen Page is the worst and it felt like Freeheld was just another film trying to do something that Still Alice did when they cast Julianne Moore.
I know this film has good intentions of making a biopic out of a real life story that matters in society and was an act of injustice and so forth. But this story already had an Academy Award-winning documentary short. So why did the director even bother? Without putting it all on Peter Sollett, I just have to say that script was equally bad, if not worse, than everything else in this film.