Hannah Free Film Review - OUTFest 2009



Anne Hagemann (l) & Sharon Gless (r) in "Hannah Free"

Cantankerous Hannah Free (Sharon Gless) Finds her self in the place where many old people have been or will end up at the end of their life, a second rate nursing home. Still lucid and independent, she must endure the condescension of nurse and Evangelists because she his bed ridden. Like many who end the end of their life, she has more than ample time to reflect on the life she had and the life that could have been. While she does not regret a thing, she disillusioned and frustrated because in the same hospital lies her lover of 40 years, Rachel (Maureen Gallagher). Comatose due to a stroke, Rachel’s puritanical daughter Marge (Taylor Miller) has forbade Hannah from seeing Rachel despite the relationship they all know the two women shared.

Enter a college student, Greta (Jacqui Jackson). She has come to interview someone about the great depression. Hannah gives her the cliff notes version with which the young woman seems infinitely fascinated by. They chat evolves into the confession that Hannah sees and talks to Rachel regularly. When Greta learns of the evil plot to keep the lovers apart for their last days on earth, she is compelled to help. Thus Hannah has acquired an unexpected ally in her effort to see her beloved Rachel one last time before they each die.

Hannah Free is a sentimental retrospective in life-long forbidden love of two women. Save for the flashbacks of Hannah and Rachel in their youth, the movie takes place pretty much in one hospital room. The film is very sentimental, slow paced and frankly turns a bit hokey near the end. Very little happens in this film which is why the production is fortunate enough to have the saving grace of Sharon Gless. It is her fire, her foul-mouthed candor and her heart that drive this intimate story. Anne Hagemann and Jacqui Jackson are equally effective and moving in their roles as the ghost of Young Rachel whom Hannah talks to and Rachel’s great granddaughter respectively.

Hannah Free examines more how two woman managed to have a love lesbian affair in a time when society did not permit such things. He film takes a glimpse at how the world, particularly in America tend to treat the old and mental ill. Her identity is discounted, her wishes are ignored and her dignity to compromised, all in the name of doing what is best for the infirmed. The film visits the generations divide in terms of acceptance of homosexuality. Moreover, the film shines a light on how staying together as a couple is the ultimate challenge for opposites who attract, regardless if they are a straight or a same sex couple.

Hannah Free is an official selection of OUTFEST 2009 running now until July 19, 2009.


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