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Spring 2010
March 8

still shots from "Desert Hearts"Desert Hearts

USA 1985, 96 minutes, drama
Director: Donna Deitch

Based on the novel, Desert of the Heart, by Jane Rule, and set in 1950s Reno, Nevada, Desert Hearts tells the story of a 35-year-old uptight New York literature professor Vivian (Helen Shaver) who comes to town to file for divorce and ends up falling in love with free-spirited 25-year-old casino worker Cay (Patricia Charbonneau).

Although Vivian left her husband because she had “drowned in still waters,” she is not prepared for the tidal wave that is Cay. Eventually they end up in bed in what remains one of the most tender lesbian love scenes on film. But can Vivian bring this rowdy cowgirl into her stodgy, intellectually elite New York life?

Desert Hearts marked the feature debuts of Charbonneau and director Donna Deitch.

"Though it may hold a timeless appeal, Desert Hearts was ahead of its time when it was released. 'It was well before lesbian chic,' Shaver pointed out, 'and it was considered very risqué by a lot of people. And it was the first lesbian love story that didn't end up in suicide or ménage à trois. It was just a true love story.'"
— Helen Shaver, interviewed on the release of the DVD edition in 2007.


»  Review of "Desert Hearts", by Sara Warn, at AfterEllen.com
»  Interview with Donna Deitch, June 3, 2007, at AfterEllen.com.
»  Where Are They Now? The Women of "Desert Hearts". inteviews, June 3, 2007, from AfterEllen.com.
»  Trailer on YouTube.


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