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|Index||40 reviews in total|
It was a really beautiful movie. The director really captures the
beauty of 2 women and 2 women finding true love in 1950's in the least
expected situation. As you watched the film, your emotions just
followed the main characters'. It is a very touching, tender, romantic
movie. This is my favorite movie. I have been watching it many times
since I got it.
Thumbs up for Patricia Charbonneau for her stunning performance esp. this was her first performance on films. She played this young, dark haired, beautiful, free spirited, and passionate woman, Cay, who compelled Helen Shaver to look into her heart and finally allowed herself to admit her feelings for Cay. Patricia is really HOT in this movie. Her beautiful smile, her sparkling eyes, her sexy voice, and every move of hers is really attractive and charming. How can anyone not fall for her? I wonder why she didn't become a star after this movie?! She is absolutely Gorgeous and she can really act. It is a shame that she didn't get enough recognitions for her talents as she deserves in the film industry. Helen Shaver did an excellent job as well. She played a repressed English professor, Vivian, who went to Reno for a quick divorce. After closing herself up for years, meeting and knowing Cay finally forced her to face her true emotions and admitted her feelings for Cay. These 2 characters' personalities are really opposite of each other. One enjoys order and the other is free spirited but somehow they are able to find true love with each other. This movie described really well how Helen Shaver struggled with her own feelings and the society's expectations, and the hardship the society and Cay's family gave to the same sex couple. Yet, Cay is very courageous, facing her true feelings, and chasing after who she wants, Vivian. Although there was no clear ending for these 2 women, it is still hopeful since Patricia got on the train with Helen. One can only hope for the best for these 2 women and May they live happily ever after.
The scenery views are quite beautiful. The mountain, the lake views and horses running are extra plus. The other characters are quite good such as Frances Parker, Cay's step mother. The love scene between these 2 is amazing. You can feel these 2 women's desires for each other. Vivian is initially repressed but once she follows her heart, you can feel these 2 women are truly in love and enjoy being intimate with each other. There is Great chemistry between Patricia and Helen, which makes this movie very real. The glances they exchanged with each other, the way they look at each other, and the way they talk to each other are very convincing that they are in love with each other. I love to watch the scenes between them over and over. I think they build up a strong foundation with each other, which then leads to a very believable, amazing, and erotic love making at the end.
The director, Donna Deitch, did an outstanding job. The script is nicely written. The display of emotions is appropriate in 1950's. There are wonderful background musics. Donna Deitch is really successful bringing out the outstanding performance of these 2 lead actresses. It is not easy to direct a film such as this one in 1980's and she had to raise the fund for this movie herself. Overall, it is an excellent movie, something you can watch over and over. Highly recommended.
Reading some of the other comments, and the reviews at the time it came
I suppose my feeling about this movie must be extremely idiosyncratic.
all the people I rope in to watching this film seem to agree with me - so
this is to give a counterpoint to the tepid (at best) comments I've read so
This is a beautifully photographed film, from beginning to end. It perfectly captures the ambiance and look of the Reno area in 1959 (I know because I was there); not just in appearance, but in the characters as well. Period music is expertly used throughout the film, with the final choice of Ella Fitzgerald's "I Wished on the Moon" a haunting and perfect end. I can't help but think that because this film was one of the first to spend several uncompromising minutes devoted to lesbian lovemaking that people tended to focus almost exclusively on that scene - and make pronouncements based on their own comfort levels with how it was filmed. This scene is really quite beautiful, but it could be left out and the sex only hinted at without harming the flow of the film. The two main characters are well-thought-out and fully realized; both fine performances (Helen Shaver is near perfect). All of the supporting characters are interesting and perfectly believable. The intelligent, witty script gives deep insight into the characters with minimal time spent. The humor is subtle but satisfying. Two examples: 1) when "the professor" comes out of her room after brooding for several days she is asked by another guest what she has been doing in there - the eccentric, grizzled ranch manager (Audra Lindley - who looks like she has been burned into the Nevada landscape)answers like a schoolmarm, "whatever it is, it's too deep for us to understand" 2) while horseback riding in the desert a Marilyn wannabe in blue jeans gets off her horse and says "my girdle is killing me!" For me this is a near perfect film. The only thing close to a criticism I can muster is the Kay character seems a bit too contemporary (but his is a very minor point and the role is well played). Unlike the other commentors, I think the characters are fascinating, each scene stands on its own as a perfect little vignette, and not only did I find the film enjoyable when it first came out, I have watched it at least 18 times since and it always holds up beautifully. Watch this movie with an open mind, void of preconceptions and value judgements, and see if you aren't enchanted (or at least entertained).
I was 17 when I first watched this movie and I had never seen a lesbian film before which treated the lesbian characters with such respect. Also, I had never seen such a passionate love scene between two women, needless to say after that scene I could no longer deny my own lesbianism. Great use of Patsy Cline's music.
"Desert Hearts" has quite a bit going for it. It captures 1950s Reno
and environs, the biggest little city in the world, pretty well: great
old cars, red earth, dried twisted windspent driftwood, fragrant summer
sagebrush, the noisy 7/24 casinos with 99 cent meals, suntanned faces,
rickety ranch motels on the outskirts of town, snow-veined Sierras, and
the pop music that is no worse than what we listen to. The story pulls
Aura Lindley is the matriarch of the ranch and has bonded with one of her tenants. A new one arrives, an Eastern sophisticate, who refers to herself as a "distinguished author," and has a lot of books schlepped into her room. Discord! Helen Shaver, the professor, is rather neat and in addition to her books carries around a lot of savoir-faire. She doesn't look bad either. The movie also has going for it the presence of Patricia Charbonneau, who must have one of the most interesting crania on the planet, and the soft parts to match. She is possessed of a sinewy yet feminine figure and carries herself with presence. Her hair and her irises are the color of glowing anthracite. ("Charbonneau", indeed.) And those dazzling big choppers, appalling and appealing. She outs herself on a walk with Shaver who responds momentarily, impulsively. Jealous, Lindley throws Shaver out, suspecting something more intimate has happened than actually has.
The intimacy follows in a later scene when Charbonneau tracks Shaver to her downtown hotel room and initiates a long, erotic love scene which isn't at all pornographic or exploitative. The two women love one another, but one is after all an uptight distinguished author and the other, though equally intelligent, goes with the flow, as they say, and has been "kicked out of college for unnatural acts."
The film ends ambiguously. Can they get together? Can they compromise their life styles? Can a distinguished author carry on an affair with another woman in the 1950s? Not including Gertrude Stein? Can our desert wildflower find a home as a potted plant surrounded by geraniums on a windowsill on MacDougall Street in the Village? Will an author find happiness with a woman after her marriage to a man has ended in boredom and disaster? Will -- I forgot what the original rhetorical question was.
This is an easy movie to get through. Nothing in it leaps out at you. It doesn't pound you over the head with its modern sensibilities. We're not invited to condemn those morons back in the 50s for their attitudes towards gays, nor are we urged to feel guilty because we are accused of some lingering distaste ourselves. The movie sort of shrugs at these issues and says, well, that's the way it was. Not exactly a time that embraced gays but, at least on the outskirts of Reno, not exactly a time of torture either. One wishes Shaver and Charbonneau well as they ride off on the train into the sunset.
Classic is an overused term, but not in the case of this movie!. I first saw it in 1990 when I was 17 and it had a huge impact on me, I had never really enjoyed romances before with the possible exception of "Marty", but this movie with the 2 very attractive, intelligent, charming leads(Helen Shaver & Patricia Charbonneau), insightful script, subtle direction and gorgeous landscape shocked and moved me. I had never seen women express such profound sexual yearning for one another before, and even in this day of lesbian chiqe this is THE lesbian movie in my mind. I would like to see this movie given the credit it deserves, for starters I would like to see a deluxe DVD re-issue, complete with a documentry including interviews with the cast and crew, background notes about the novel it is based on "Desert of the heart" by Jane Rule, etc, etc. With the 20th anniversery approaching I think a campaign should be started to rescue this movie from "cult" status and put it where it belongs.
I'm a straight male and I feel the movie was done very tastefully (not a
pun) and had a nice story. It wasn't supposed to be an action flick, but it
does have a good story though I would have preferred to see it go a little
deeper emotionally, but you have to understand that this was a "period" film
and given the era the movie was set in, the emotions of the characters make
perfect sense. In the 50's and especially in the rural areas, people were
very conservative and though a character like Cay would've wanted to be open
about her lifestyle, she certainly would've felt restrained to do so, even
as free-spirited as she was. And Vivian would certainly have initially felt
like a leper as the tug of societal demands and the mores of the era weighed
on her. I think it was filmed and written in exactly the same light as it
needed to be, no more, no less. A very realistic portrait of the era and a
great job, no doubt about it, and highly recommended for viewing, but I
would rate it "R" for about 5-10 minutes of sex scenes, maybe "PG-13" for
As for the sex scenes, I can't imagine anyone not enjoying it, whatever your orientation. I did, and I'm straight as an arrow (no pun intended there either!)
See how much this out-of-print video sells for on the Net and you'll see the demand this movie still creates, which is more of a barometer of its success than anything else. I can't believe that it ever went out-of-print given the demand for it. You don't see that with just any video, and as a minor collector of rare videos I can say that for a fact.
with a nice sound track (I love Patsy Cline). It has a good feel for the
period in which it takes places (the late Eisenhower years.)
The theme of a lesbian coming to terms with her identity, as in this movie, is still relevant today - for a lesbian or gay man. And it is great to see finally a gay-themed movie that is NOT exploitative (like all those kinky lesbian vampire flicks) and has a happy and "gay" ending!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
OK, I know, with a title header like that, this review better be better
then the title heading right? I just couldn't resist. This is one of
the first Hollywood movies to ever explore Lesbianism, so why shouldn't
I be allowed to shout it out? Vivian Bell, played by Helen Shaver,
arrives into 1950's Fresno for a quickie divorce, boarding with a
friendly mom-like landlord and her employees of her ranch. The landlord
also has a step-daughter, Cay, who Bell is curiously magnetted too, and
vice versa. Soon, Vivian is surprised to find her falling for Cay's
advances and are soon lovers. But there is consequences to this, after
all this is 1950's Fresno we're talking about here.
All the cast is great here, especially Patricia Charbonneau, who has quite a debut here, and Audra Linley, playing the landlady who I absolutely didn't recognize. (She's Mrs Roper on Three's Company fer crying out loud!) Amazingly brisk and enjoyable, I haven't seen a movie in a long time that I enjoyed without checking the time to see how much was left.
I've seen this movie at least a dozen times and it never fails to make
me cry. It's a simple love story, but the fact that it's two women in
love in Nevada in the 1950's gives it special significance. Unlike a
lot of lesbian movies that were made in the 1980's, this one isn't all
doom and gloom. It's actually a movie that will make you remember being
young, impulsive and in love. It leaves the
viewer feeling hopeful about the future. Vivian Bell is a professor who comes to Nevada in the 1950's for a quickie divorce from her husband. While there she
meets Cay Rivers and Cay opens up a whole new world to her and makes
Vivian realize there's more to life than her stuffy, professional existence in New York. In addition, this movie has the most touching, intimate, erotic, and soulful love scene that I have EVER seen between 2 women in a movie.
This is possibly the best lezzie film made thus far. It has enough production values to be attractive, yet does not have the big Hollywood machinery that grinds everything into pablum. It's also not a sex film, but it is a fine indie effort. Both Shaver and Charbonneau are highly appealing.
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