Our Rating: ★★★★½
L Factor: Lesbian Film
Short Take: This classic romance takes place on a guest ranch outside Reno, Nevada in 1959. A casino worker falls in love with an east coast academic.
Alternate Titles:
Year: 1985
Language: USA/English
Director: Donna Deitch
Writer: Jane Rule, Natalie Cooper
Starring: Helen Shaver, Patricia Charbonneau, Audra Lindley, Andra Akers, Dean Butler, Gwen Welles, James Staley, Katie La Bourdette, Alex McArthur, Tyler Tyhurst, Denise Crosby, Antony Ponzini, Brenda Beck, Sam Minsky, Patricia Frazier

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Desert HeartsTwenty years later, the love scene in Desert Hearts remains one of the most lovely around. Watching Vivian open up her body and mind to Cay, releasing her stuffy inhibitions and giving in to desire, is extremely erotic, but not in an overly explicit way.

This classic romance takes place on a guest ranch outside Reno, Nevada in 1959. Vivian (Helen Shaver, Common Ground, ‘The L Word’) is an academic from the east coast, staying in Nevada long enough to collect the divorce papers from her husband. The much younger, carefree Cay (Patricia Charbonneau) lives at the ranch and works at a local casino.

They are an unlikely couple, but both are smitten and decide to give it a go, each taking risks in an unknown future. Also featuring Audra Lindley as the ranch owner. Directed by Donna Deitch (Common Ground, The Women of Brewster Place, Fabulous!). Based on the novel ‘Desert of the Heart‘ by Jane Rule.

The two disc Collector’s Edition dvd includes great extras like extended love scene footage, with take after take of Vivian and Cay together. We can see how pieces of the scene were shot before editing and hear Donna Deitch’s direction. Also, Deitch interviews Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau separately. They discuss a range of topics, from both being advised beforehand that these roles would ruin their careers, to their immediate chemistry together during casting, to Helen’s need for a retake for the appropriate nipple reaction near the end of the day. A black and white slide show of cast and crew set to music and the original theatrical trailer round out the extras. I was left wanting more, but still smiling from the footage and interviews. (AB)