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Freeheld Movie Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Sollett
Produced by
Screenplay byRon Nyswaner
Based onFreeheld
by Cynthia Wade
Music by
CinematographyMaryse Alberti
Edited byAndrew Mondshein
Distributed bySummit Entertainment (through Lionsgate[1])
Release date
  • September 13, 2015 (2015-09-13) (TIFF)
  • October 2, 2015 (2015-10-02) (United States)
Running time
103 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million[3]
Box office$1.7 million[4]

Freeheld is a 2015 American drama film directed by Peter Sollett and written by Ron Nyswaner. The film stars Julianne Moore, Elliot Page,[a] Michael Shannon, Steve Carell, and Luke Grimes. It is based on the 2007 documentary short film of the same name about police officer Laurel Hester's fight against the Ocean County, New Jersey Board of Chosen Freeholders to allow her pension benefits to be transferred to her domestic partner after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.


The film is based on the true story of Laurel Hester (Moore), a police officer in Ocean County, New Jersey. The story narrates the difficulties faced by a lesbian police detective and her domestic partner, Stacie Andree (Page). Following her diagnosis with terminal lung cancer in 2005, Hester repeatedly appealed to the county's board of chosen freeholders to have her pension benefits passed on to her domestic partner; she was eventually successful.[5]




Screenwriter Ron Nyswaner announced his intention in 2010 to write a feature-length adaptation of Cynthia Wade's 2007 Oscar-winning short film Freeheld, a documentary about New Jersey police officer Laurel Hester's fight against the Ocean County, New Jersey Board of Chosen Freeholders to pass on her pension benefits to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.[7] At that time, Elliot Page[a] had already agreed to star as Andree; he stated in 2014 that he had been involved in the project's development for almost six years.[7][9] He first became involved after two of the film's producers, Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg, sent him a copy of Wade's documentary and asked if he was interested in starring in an adaptation, an offer which he accepted "right away".[10] Catherine Hardwicke was attached to the project as director early in its development but later withdrew.[11] Shortly after the film's financing was secured in August 2012,[11] Peter Sollett signed on to replace Hardwicke as director.[12] Julianne Moore was cast as Hester in February 2014.[6] Zach Galifianakis was cast as Steven Goldstein, the founder and then-Chair of Garden State Equality, but was later replaced by Steve Carell.[5] Andree consulted with Page, Sollett and Nyswaner about the making of the film.[13]


Although the film is set in New Jersey, it was filmed in New York due to its more generous tax incentives for filmmakers.[5] Filming began in October 2014 in Queens. In late October, a scene that was supposed to be filmed at Salesian High School, a Catholic boys' school in New Rochelle, New York, had to be relocated after the school's principal reversed his decision to allow the crew to film on the school campus.[14] The shoot was later relocated to the city hall of Rye, New York, which stood in for the Ocean County Administration Building[15] in a scene where Hester and Andree apply for domestic partnership.[14] Another scene, in which Hester lies ill in a hospital room, was filmed in the community center of Greenburgh, New York,[16] while the town board room of North Hempstead, New York stood in for the Ocean County Board of Freeholders' chambers.[17]


The soundtrack was composed by Hans Zimmer & Johnny Marr. It was released at WaterTower Music & iTunes and includes the following tracks.

  1. "On The Case"
  2. "Can I Have Your Number?"
  3. "House Hunting"
  4. "Can't Leave Her"
  5. "The Decision"
  6. "Justice"
  7. "Remembering"


In February 2015, Lionsgate acquired distribution rights to the film.[18] It received a limited release on October 2, 2015.[19]

Critical reception[edit]

Freeheld received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 49% rating based on 136 reviews, with an average rating of 5.62/10. The consensus states: "Freeheld certainly means well, but its cardboard characters and by-the-numbers drama undermine its noble intentions."[20] On Metacritic, the film has a 50 out of 100 rating based on 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[21]

The film was listed by Autostraddle in 7th place of the best 102 lesbian films ever.[22]


  1. ^ a b c d e Credited as Ellen Page

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Freeheld at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ "FREEHELD (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. November 4, 2015. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  3. ^ Tong, Allan. "Respect and Integrity in 27 Days: Peter Sollett Discusses Freeheld at Bloomberg/IFP's "Business of Entertainment" Breakfast - Filmmaker Magazine".
  4. ^ "Freeheld (2015)". The Numbers. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d Larsen, Erik (September 17, 2014). "Hollywood to immortalize Ocean County gay rights battle". Asbury Park Press. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Siegel, Tatiana (February 13, 2014). "Julianne Moore, Zach Galifianakis to Star in Drama 'Freeheld' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c McClintock, Pamela (May 18, 2010). "Nyswaner to adapt 'Freeheld' for Ellen Page". Variety. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  8. ^ Kroll, Justin (September 11, 2014). "'Fifty Shades of Grey' Actor Luke Grimes Joins Julianne Moore in 'Freeheld' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  9. ^ Abramovitch, Seth (May 7, 2014). "'X-Men's' Ellen Page on Life After Coming Out, the Bryan Singer Case and Her Battle With Depression". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  10. ^ D'Addario, Daniel (August 27, 2015). "Ellen Page on Freeheld and Why She Came Out: 'I Was Just Depressed'". Time. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Cunningham, Joe (August 23, 2012). "Watch: Gay Rights Doc 'Freeheld' That's Being Turned Into A Feature Starring Ellen Page, Financing For Film Secured". Indiewire. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  12. ^ Taylor, Drew (September 6, 2012). "'Nick and Norah' Director Peter Sollett To Helm Ellen Page's Equal Rights Drama 'Freeheld'". Indiewire. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  13. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (September 26, 2015). "Zurich: Ellen Page calls for more diverse stories". Screen International. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  14. ^ a b Abramovitch, Seth (October 21, 2014). "Julianne Moore and Ellen Page's Lesbian Drama Barred From Shooting at Catholic School". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  15. ^ "Map of County Complex". County of Ocean Government. County of Ocean Government. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  16. ^ Sciortino, Dina Grace Zoe (October 31, 2014). "Julianne Moore, Steve Carell Film 'Freeheld' At Greenburgh Community Center". The Greenburgh Daily Voice. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  17. ^ Eidler, Scott (November 7, 2014). "Steve Carell films movie at North Hempstead Town Hall". Newsday. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  18. ^ "Ellen Page and Julianne Moore LGBT Rights Drama Freeheld Gets Picked Up". SheWired, February 11, 2015.
  19. ^ Snarker, Dorothy (May 8, 2015). "The Great Gay Hope of Ellen Page and Julianne Moore's "Freeheld"". Indiewire. Archived from the original on July 27, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  20. ^ "Freeheld (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  21. ^ "Freeheld". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  22. ^ "Now, An Updated Edition Of The 102 Best Lesbian Movies Of All Time". Autostraddle. February 14, 2017. Retrieved June 25, 2017.

External links[edit]