Desert Hearts (1998)


No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...


Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In a film adapted from the novel Desert of the Heart by Jane Rule, an unassuming college professor (Helen Shaver) comes to Nevada to get a divorce. There, a friendship with a young casino waitress (Patricia Charbonneau) soon turns into a lesbian affair.

Rating: R (adult situations)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Art House & International, Gay & Lesbian
Directed By: ,
Written By: Jane Rule, Natalie Cooper
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 22, 2007
MGM Home Entertainment


as Vivian Bell

as Cay Rivvers

as Frances Parker

as Silver

as Art Warner

as Walter

as Joe Lorenzo

as Red Cop

as Hungarian Gambler
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Critic Reviews for Desert Hearts

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (6)

The story is not sensationalistic, although its love scene could not be more emotional. It`s a gentle story of someone being brought in from the cold.

Full Review… | January 16, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Desert Hearts

The story of an unexpected, atypical lesbian romance set in 1950's Reno, Nevada.

If you're willing to overlook the low production quality and a few stiff performances, there's a very interesting film here. Helen Shaver is absolutely gorgeous and Audra Lindley (aka Mrs. Roper) impressed almost everyone with her portrayal of the loving but closed-minded stepmother.

Overall, an enjoyable, unearthshattering respite from the never-ending onslaught of 'conventional' cinema.

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

One of the most sensitive stories for what it feels like to be a woman who loves women, "Desert Hearts" made quite a difference when it was released. Produced in 1985, it has been one of the most groundbreaking films of its time for the American audience- one of the many forward steps that the movie industry had to take in depicting homosexuals as beautiful and as intelligent beings as any person out there ('Making Love" [1982] also comes to mind), and one of the very few stories that had a happy ending for a lesbian couple at the time. Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau make a wonderful couple on the screen, and the love scenes among them feel tender, real and not contrived at all, just like their romance.

Anastasia Bartzoulianou

Super Reviewer


Good movie even if out-dated a bit. I watched this many years ago and remember enjoying it at the time.

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