Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

1 thought on “TIFF Review: ‘Freeheld,’ starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page

  1. Hi, David, from Steven Goldstein. I enjoyed reading your review, though I disagree profoundly with your assessment of Steve Carell, whom I think does a great job playing
    me. More than other films based on true stories I’ve seen, “Freeheld” sticks closer to the truth than almost all the others. Carell’s dialogue comes in large part – not completely, of course – from raw footage left over the documentary of years ago that won the Oscar in 2008 for Best Short Documentary. Now am I quite as two-dimensional as this new
    full-length feature film would suggest? Yes and no. Yes, I’m a loud gay Jewish activist – someone with unstoppable drive and chutzpah, which seems to have worked in my career, where as a lawyer in the U.S. Congress and then as the leader of Garden State Equality, I played a role in the passage of hundreds of new laws at the local, county, state and national levels. That also means there must be something more to me than
    just being a loud gay Jewish activist. The other side to me is a the consummate insider, softer, strategic and quite conciliatory. As I teach my law students today – I’m a law
    professor now who teaches social justice advocacy – we advocates need to be
    both insiders who work within the system and outsiders ready to throw figurative bombs if we have to. That’s the combination of every successful social justice moment, and that combination, between the great Dane Wells and me, working with many others, is what helped to win justice for Laurel and Stacie. During the events of Freeheld back in 2005 and 2006, I worked behind the scenes, not loudly at all, to try to effectuate movement among the Freeholders, and as the movie depicts, I helped to broker the deal where our Governor, my former boss, stepped in to clinch justice for Laurel and Stacie. Now lest you say this proves your point that Steve Carell or the script played me too two-diminsionally, I am a supporting character in this movie where there is less room for character development and nuance. So as to the one side I saw of me in the film, well, I was fine with it. More than fine. That’s a public side of me, albeit not all of me, and Steve Carell nails it – and in real life, it works, certainly in my state of New Jersey, where outsized political personalities are the most popular and successful. The part you wrote that hurt, with which I take issue, is where you say you didn’t get a sense my character cared about Laurel and Stacie. I cared passionately about them yet I see no mutual exclusion with also recognizing they could change the world to prevent other Laurel Hesters. We social justice advocates are supposed to have those dual roles: To care about the people in pain we meet, but to showcase their stories to the public to ensure others don’t have to suffer their pain in the future. We want to help as many others as possible. I thank you for your review and for allowing me to respond. All best, Steven, stevengoldstein.email@gmail.com

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