This probably would've attracted a wider audience had it been a made-for-TV movie. The film is a drama based on real life people in a real life case. It's called FREEHELD and focuses on a dying lesbian in New Jersey fighting for the right to leave money to her domestic partner. Early this year, we saw Julianne Moore win a well-deserved Oscar for Still Alice, the indie film in which she played a 50-year old New York City university professor diagnosed with Alzheimer's Diseases. We see the vital, sophisticated wife and mother slowly empty out. In Freeheld, Moore plays a New Jersey police officer who doesn't tell fellow officers that she's gay. The story happens about ten or twelve years ago. There was no same-sex marriage law in place nationally. Laurel Hester, an outstanding and ambitious cop, is determined to move up in her profession.
In a curious bit a casting, Steve Carell plays the self-described loud-mouthed, assertive, Jewish gay activist who's out to make the dying cop's story a major one in order to shine a big light on the need for marriage equality. Initially, Hester resists. She just wants justice for the woman she loves. Carell's character is written as though moviegoers in Heartland American seeing this film would not quite get that fact that he's a gay New York Jewish man -- named Steven Goldstein. Yes, he announces it. But then he also wears a violet colored yarmulke on his head. He tells his office workers that he needs more Entenmann's donuts. Still not obvious enough? In one brief scene, he's on the phone in his fabulous kitchen. For some reason, there was a need to have a big honkin' lit menorah right smack dab on his kitchen counter to remind us that Steven Goldstein is Jewish. Had this film been made in the 1980s, he would shown up at one of the ailing officer's hearings with protest signs in big brown bags from Bloomingdale's.
In a category of films with a lesbian couple as the main figures, this cannot hold a candle to the rich, complicated, witty and wonderful, The Kids Are All Right starring Julianne Moore and Annette Bening. Moore and Page are good with Moore getting the better role and Page doing the best she can. But, for the big screen and despite all its good intentions, the writing doesn't quite make it in Freeheld. It has that TV formula feel. That's why I do believe this release would've fared better as a made-for-TV movie.