Freeheld

Cynthia Wade’s Oscar-winning documentary short Freeheld (2007) told the story of Laurel Hester, a terminally ill New Jersey police detective who lobbied the county government to award her pension to her gay domestic partner. As dramatized by screenwriter Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia) and director Peter Sollett (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist), the story is more worthy than watchable—part chest-thumping issue drama, part disease-of-the-week tearjerker. Julianne Moore gives a sleepy, distracted performance as Hester, though Sollett gets exceptional work from Ellen Page as the cop’s devoted young lover and Michael Shannon as Hester’s taciturn partner on the force, who presses his coworkers to take up her cause. In a stunt-casting disaster, Steve Carell turns up as a Jewish gay activist dispensing political pieties and campy one-liners.