“Woman is a miracle of divine contradictions”
- Jules Michelet
In ancient Greece Aristophanes described the myth that we are each one half of a whole and it is the need to complete that whole that is love. This myth was never better demonstrated than in the film Hannah Free written by Claudia Allen and directed by Wendy Jo Carlton. The film tells the story of Hannah and Rachel who grew up as little girls in the same small Midwest town, where traditional gender expectations eventually challenge their deep love for one another. Hannah becomes an adventurous, unapologetic lesbian and Rachel a strong but quiet homemaker. Weaving back and forth between past and present, the film reveals how the women maintained their love affair despite a marriage, a world war, infidelities, and family denial.
Featuring a luminescent performance by Sharon Gless as Hannah and a strong cast with Ann Hagemann as the adult Rachel and Jacqui Jackson as her granddaughter both outstanding in their important supporting roles. Many of the scenes in this intimate film were both touching and memorable as it lovingly depicted a small town romance between one woman who is always leaving and the other who is home-bound, until the final chapter of their lives together when the roles are reversed. This is a beautiful small film that deserves a very large audience.
Hannah Free by Claudia Allen. Wendy Jo Carlton, dir. Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago.