Review: Hannah Free
Oh, lesbian films. How do you disappoint us, let us count the ways! Let’s think back: Go Fish (the less said the better), High Art (pretentiousness and drug addiction combined!), Bound (ruined by Jennifer Tilly’s breathless voice), and of course the “classic” of the genre, Claire of the Moon.
So it was with some trepidation that I sat down to watch Hannah Free. Yet, my fears proved to be unfounded.
Adapted from Claudia Allen’s play and directed by Wendy Jo Carlton, Hannah Free is the charming, and moving, story of the eponymous Hannah, played by none other than Sharon Gless (Cagney and Lacey, Queer As Folk). The story is set in a nursing home and tells of her life with Rachel, played by Maureen Gallagher, and her struggle to defy the condescending hetero-centric staff and be re-united with her beloved. There are echoes If These Walls Could Talk 2’s 1961 couple, but less harrowing.
Always a friend of the gays, Gless is wonderful as Hannah. She provides us with a portrayal of Hannah’s character which is at once sympathetic and strong. Gless allows the character’s free spirit and flaws to simultaneously shine through. The story of Hannah and Rachel’s love affair – surviving through Rachel’s marriage, a world war, infidelity – is told with sincerity and with humour. If I need to be critical, however, the film felt a little long, and the chemistry between the younger leads tested my suspension of disbelief.
Hannah Free has played at over sixty film festivals in North America, and has won awards including Best Feature at Philadelphia’s Q-Fest and Montreal’s International LGBT Film Festival. And I can understand why: Hannah Free is genuinely heart-warming and moving, and hilarious when it wants to be.
Hannah Free is released on DVD on 5th July 2010.
Hannah Free at Peccadillo Pictures
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