It’s been a growing theme in the first few days of the Toronto Film Festival, and one we’ll fully explore in a piece later this week, but it seems like a lot of the anticipated LGBT-themed films at proving underwhelming (the bright side of that is that a lot of the under-the-radar ones are not). Case in point is “Freeheld,” which despite strong performances from Julianne Moore and Ellen Page felt a bit too much like a Lifetime TV movie to us. And we’re not alone.
Rodrigo Perez at The Playlist gave the film a lowly D+, explaining that “the movie can’t keep its eye on the human condition, and when it does, it’s mawkishly rendered and without much spark. It’s difficult to get invested in fairly unremarkable, underdeveloped characters when they feel more like pawns in a larger, if well-meaning, political agenda.”
Indiewire’s Eric Kohn was only slightly kinder. “‘Freeheld’ collapses into a heartwarming sub-Frank Capra finale that should catch no one by surprise,” he said. “Though the tearjerker quality of the closing minutes certainly get the job done, they’re not enough to salvage the obvious beats preceding them. Released months after the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, ‘Freeheld’ is simultaneously timely and out of touch.”
Over at The Guardian, Nigel M. Smith gave the film just one star. “A film that should feel urgent and of its time, but instead is rendered cliched and dull by Sollet’s amateurish handling of the material,” he said.
All very disappointing for a film we were sincerely rooting for.