dir Peter Sollett
scr Ron Nyswaner
prd Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Cynthia Wade, Jack Selby, Duncan Montgomery, James D Stern, Julie Goldstein, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Ellen Page, Kelly Bush Novak
with Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael Shannon, Steve Carell, Josh Charles, Luke Grimes, Skipp Sudduth, Dennis Boutsikaris, Tom McGowan, Gabriel Luna, Kevin O'Rourke, William Sadler
release US 2.Oct.15, UK 19.Feb.16
15/US Summit 1h43
I got you babe: Moore and Page

shannon carell charles
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Freeheld Based on a true story from 2002 New Jersey, this film has the tone of a TV movie, recounting events in a straightforward way with little artistry. But Julianne Moore and Ellen Page bring an unnerving honesty to their roles that rises above both the disease and the political issue at the heart of the story.

Seasoned New Jersey detective Laurel (Moore) meets strong-willed Stacie (Page) in a local volleyball league. There's a spark between them from the start, and they buy a house to do up together, registering as civil partners. But this means nothing when Laurel is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, and her county insurance freeholders, in a shocking display of bigotry, deny her request to extend her benefits to Stacie. Then equality activist Steven (Carell) takes on their case, and they find unexpected support from two colleagues (Shannon and Grimes).

The extraordinary series of events that make up this story hold the interest, especially with such a high-calibre cast involved. The deeply ingrained discrimination is shocking even with only 15 years hindsight. Laurel isn't asking for special treatment; she's asking for a level playing field. And it's fascinating to see her true friends rally to her side, while Steven refuses to accept any level of disrespect, seeing Laurel's issue from a national perspective.

Moore and Page are remarkably open in their roles, creating a fully believable relationship that fuels the drama that's to come. Their physicality is effortless, and their emotional connection deeply resonant. Shannon offers solid support as Laurel's partner, who boldly takes a stand for her. And Carell delivers one of his most endearing performances yet as the unapologetically middle-class Jewish gay man who sees this miscarriage of justice as a chance to change the world.

Intriguing touches include the way Laurel initially refers to Stacie as her sister or roommate, because she's acutely aware of how everyone will judge her or hinder her career if they knew the truth. And the sad fact is that she has a point. Even colleagues sympathetic to their cause are afraid to take a public stand. But as she and Stacie take a stand, they inspire everyone around them. And in the end, their actions did in fact change the world.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 28.Jan.16

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