“FREEHELD” My rating: B-
103 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13
A great tale trumps — just barely — mediocre delivery in “Freeheld,” a fictional version of the same story told in the 2007 Oscar-winning documentary of the same name.
Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) is a police detective in Ocean County, NJ. She’s a tough, creative and much-honored cop, admired by her peers and especially her womanizing (so we’re told) partner, Dane Wells (Michael Shannon).
Laurel is also a closeted lesbian, so worried that her career will stall if her sexual orientation becomes public that she has virtually no personal life.
Then she meets tomboyish Stacie Andree (Ellen Page). Love blossoms, although the very out Stacie has a hard time dealing with Laurel’s secretive ways.
When Laurel is diagnosed with late stage cancer, she goes public with her sexuality by asking the Ocean County Board of Freeholders (basically the county commission, which runs the local police) to assign her pension benefits to her partner Stacie, who will at least be able to keep the house they have purchased and rennovated.
But all this takes place a decade ago, at a time when local pols weren’t about to set a precedent by giving a gay employee rights normally reserved for married heterosexuals. So begins a long and painful legal and public relations process as Laurel becomes ever more frail.