Time Out says
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page star in a rights-equality drama that pounds you over the head
There’s no pleasure in kicking a film as compassionate and well-intentioned as ‘Freeheld’. The story is based on real-life events that took place in New Jersey in 2005. Julianne Moore is Laurel Hester, a police detective who has spent 23 years on the force and roughly 45 years in the closet. We meet her as she falls in love with a young woman named Stacie Andree (Ellen Page). When Laurel is diagnosed with terminal cancer, she naturally wants to pass her pension benefits to Stacie so her partner can continue to live in their home. But local law doesn’t acknowledge same-sex couples. What follows is a courageous legal battle.
There is sincerity in this limp dramatisation directed by Peter Sollett (‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’). The trouble is that ‘Freeheld’ presses so hard on its agenda that the whole thing goes numb. Screenwriter Ron Nyswaner, whose script for ‘Philadelphia’ is a powerful example of a campaigning movie that works, takes for granted the fact that Laurel and Stacie are real people and bends them into flimsy symbols of the fight they waged. Only Michael Shannon, playing against type, manages to transcend his character’s function – playing Laurel’s hard-ass cop partner, whose initial resentment for Laurel’s secrecy evolves into empathy.
Cast and crew