Desert Hearts (1998) - Rotten Tomatoes

Desert Hearts (1998)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

In this uneven film about a change in sexual orientation, a group of women on vacation on a Nevada ranch commiserate about their pending divorces, but one inhibited 35-year-old among them (played by Helen Shaver) is particularly maladjusted. She is more rigid and conformist than the rest, and so is especially confused and put off when the rancher's adopted daughter starts to make some obvious overtures in her direction. After awhile the up-tight woman realizes that she has strong homosexual tendencies, but she still sees them as "unnatural" and struggles with her own feelings.
R (adult situations)
Art House & International , Drama , Romance , Gay & Lesbian
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
MGM Home Entertainment

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Helen Shaver
as Vivian Bell
Patricia Charbonneau
as Cay Rivvers
Audra Lindley
as Frances Parker
Andra Akers
as Silver
Dean Butler
as Darell
James Staley
as Art Warner
Alex McArthur
as Walter
Antony Ponzini
as Joe Lorenzo
Tom Martin
as Red Cop
Donna Deitch
as Hungarian Gambler
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Critic Reviews for Desert Hearts

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (2)

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

Desert Hearts wasn't the first, but it's certainly one of the most significant and an important forebearer to Todd Haynes and Phyllis Nagy's sublime Carol.

Full Review… | January 21, 2016
Film Experience

Despite many shortcomings--narrow focus, stiff dialogue, and lack of humor--it's worth seeing for historical reasons: this movie herladed a new wave of American gay and lesbian independent films.

Full Review… | June 20, 2006

A smooth and sensitive film that convincingly circles around the many different kinds of love and lets in light from several angles.

Full Review… | January 15, 2002
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Desert Hearts

Adorable, classic... I can't get over Patricia Charbonneau in this movie. Great performances by the whole cast really, and the story is well-written. To be fair though, I think it did lack a bit in development of both characters and story. The relationship between Vivian and Cay is so perfect though, the tension, the fear, the love, the affection... very well done. The ending leaves me so happy, because I know in my heart that it wasn't just 40 more minutes with each other;)

Lisa Kretschman
Lisa Kretschman

'50s-set lesbian love story probably seemed a lot more revolutionary in 1985 than it does now (one very steamy scene aside), yet it's a well-made, occasionally stirring film with a terrific Helen Shaver performance.

Jason Alley
Jason Alley

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
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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