Freeheld’s first act combines irrelevant police cases with an awkward early-stage romance that develops into a cheesy, sun-splashed love story. The deferral of the main narrative leaves room to thoroughly demonstrate that Page and Moore are an unconvincing couple. They try, but are held back by clichéd scenarios and dialogue, plus Sollett’s infuriatingly coy habit of cutting away at the merest suggestion of sensitive material.
Though it wears “controversial” politics on its sleeve, Freeheld is more conservative than you’d expect. It should have been a powerful female-led film, but Michael Shannon’s Dane, Laurel’s (Moore) professional partner, is the most interesting character.
Freeheld recreates a tangible community locked in ideological conflict, yet it fails to grab hold due to senseless pacing and a failure to express authentic emotion between Laurel and Stacie.
CAST: Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael Shannon, Steve Carell
DIRECTOR: Peter Sollett
WRITER: Ron Nyswaner
SYNOPSIS: New Jersey police lieutenant, Laurel Hester (Moore), and her registered domestic partner, Stacie Andree (Page), battle to secure Laurel’s pension benefits after she’s diagnosed with terminal cancer.