Ellen Page To Star In True-Life Lesbian Drama Freeheld

The usual rule of thumb about Oscar-winning shorts is that the grimmer the subject matter-- the Holocaust, child trafficking, etc.-- the likelier it is to win. And while 2008's documentary short winner, Cynthia Wade's Freeheld, was a pretty tragic story about a lesbian couple fighting for one partner's pension benefits after she was diagnosed with fatal lung cancer, it was different from your average sob story, and hugely topical in our current struggle fighting for gay rights.

A story that relevant and tragic can't stay buried for too long, and now the inevitable has happened-- THR reports that Philadelphia screenwriter Ron Nyswaner will adapt Freeheld as a feature film, with Ellen Page starring. Page will play Stacie Andree, a New Jersey car mechanic who fought to receive pension benefits from her police offer partner Laurel Hester after Hester's death, a privilege that would have applied to heterosexual married couples but not to lesbian domestic partners. Hester won her appeal in January of 2006, just a month before she passed away.

Andree was 30 at the time all this was taking place, which means the role will either be a bit of an adult stretch for Page, who was playing high school students as recently as last year, or they'll age the characters down a little. Even before her breakout performance in Juno Page hasn't shied away from difficult or controversial roles, and Freeheld is exactly the kind of small movie that needs an actor like Page to take interest and push it into the mainstream. It's been more than 15 years since Philadelphia examined some of the grave injustices facing gay couples; a major drama like Freeheld is probably well overdue.

Katey Rich

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend