The sprawling dude ranches and bustling casinos of Reno, Nevada, coupled with the memorable music of the late 1950's provide the setting and mood for this powerful, yet sensitive story of friendship, love and self-discovery.
"Desert Hearts" stars HELEN SHAVER as Vivian Bell, a repressed college professor who arrives in Reno intent on dissolving her unfulfilling twelve year marriage, yet frightened by the uncharted course of her life.
For Vivian, who has always prided herself on doing the "right thing," the very thought of divorce is an affront to her self-image, an open door to her anger, guilt, fear, and resentment--emotions which she hasn't experienced in years.
However, her staid demeanor and professional life of discipline and control begins to unravel upon meeting a colorful array of characters including Cay Rivvers (PATRICIA CHARBONNEAU), a fiery yet sensitive casino worker who loves life with a confusion of humor and tenderness, reluctance and generosity. Her outward physicality at first threatens Vivian, but soon after, the two women slowly develop a mutual understanding and a compassionate friendship.
From this relationship emerges an even deeper bond, an expression of not only mutual desire, but trust as well, which propels the two women to become lovers. Their spiritual and physical liberation finally allows both Vivian and Cay to free themselves of the past, and of who they have been--and look to the future--and who they will become.