As I was leaving the theater Thursday night, I became immediately affixed on a group of elderly ladies who were leaving alongside me because of the scowls they were wearing. We had just finished seeing a very advanced showing of Freeheld, which stars Julianne Moore and Ellen Page. Moore plays Detective Laurel Hester, who is diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and must fight for equality for her partner, Stacie (played by Ellen Page), in order for her to have her access to her benefits after she dies.
I immediately had this notion that somehow, they were going to bitch about the context in the film; what I did see transpire was nothing short of astonishing. The ladies approached the wonderful studio representative and told her that they loved the movie so much that it had changed their views on Gay Marriage and equality of same-sex couples. Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this movie is the best movie of 2015, but I will say to you that Freeheld is the most important movie to come out thus far.
It’s a realistic look at the heart of the equality debate in America. – Peter Sollett directed Freeheld, and the final product is a compelling glimpse into the equality debate. Take a minute to think about all the movies that center around Same-Sex Couples, and how many times you have seen that stereotypical gay character just feeding into the misguided stereotype. I’m sure some critics will point towards movies like The Kids are all Right as a film that doesn’t feed the stereotype. The Kids are all Right is more Hollywood, less of what is currently transpiring today.
When you check out Freeheld, what you see is a middle-class look at what truly is going on in America. Couples are often just trying to lead a normal existence, being ridiculed either directly or indirectly by people who, quite frankly, don’t know they’re even offending anyone. Freeheld shines a spotlight on this issue. Some may think this movie is simply about Gay Marriage, but that’s too marginalizing. This movie asks, are we truly equals in 2015? My favorite line in the film comes from Stacie when she addresses the board, who has rejected them time and time again to get what married people would take for granted: “Guys we are just normal people … who live in a house… not a great house.. kind of a fixer-upper… we are not perfect… we fight .. we are just people.”
It starts a discussion that quite frankly is overdue. – In our current world, people are more willing than ever to avoid making tough discussions. When it comes to equality, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone to say men and women aren’t entitled to equal rights. But if you tossed in the caveat that those men and women were gay, you wouldn’t nearly have the same result. In Freeheld, we are left to discuss whether or not we live a in truly equal world. Are we treating everyone in an equal and loving manner no matter what their sexual orientation? Does it even truly matter what your sexual orientation is or does love matter more? In the end as the board is fighting behind closed doors, one of the board members is shouting, “Well, I can’t compromise my religious beliefs” and the other members retorts “what about your belief in the human race?”
So, yes we will have plenty of excellent movies to discuss this year, and I would imagine some of them will surpass Freeheld. Remember, there is an enormous difference between the best movie of the year and the most important movie of the year. The most important movie of the year is no question, Freeheld.