Made for only $350,000 in 1985 when no one wanted to fund or star in a movie about lesbians, Desert Hearts is widely considered the first full-length lesbian love story, and its success paved the way for the proliferat...展开ion of lesbian films we enjoy today.
Directed by Donna Deitch and set in 1950's Reno, Nevada, Desert Hearts tells the story of a 35-year-old uptight female professor Vivian (Helen Shaver) who comes to town to file for divorce and ends up falling in love with a 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 quite prepared for the tidal wave-effect Cay has on her life. As Vivian herself admits, her life is all about "order," and her image of herself as a scholar and a professional, upstanding woman does not include a relationship with a woman. Cay, meanwhile, is living at home with her stepmother, Frances (Audra Lindley) while she waits to meet someone who "counts"--and she almost immediately recognizes that Vivian is that someone.
Both women struggle with conflicting desires and a sense of obligation to others, and are ultimately drawn together not just because of their attraction to each other, but because each woman offers the other something she has been unable to find on her own.