I had always wanted to carry a movie. Limited funds often necessitated filming two scenes in one day, with little room for retakes. In LA I convinced them it would be a box office hit. Even if they hated it, they'd be talking about it. Donna Deitch assured her over the phone that she was right for her movie and told her she refused to hang up the phone until she got an answer. Now, if I never make another one, I've done this.
The hard part was just walking out on the set naked and just standing there. Jane Rule described the film as "beautifully simplified". She gave fundraising parties and published a regular newsletter to keep investors informed about the project's development. In his scathing review for The New York Times , Vincent Canby criticized the screenplay as "unimaginative", described its characters as having "so little life", and the film as lacking a "voice or style of its own", but did add that it "is so earnest and sincere that it deserves an A for deportment". Deitch's film is a passionate, beautifully controlled drama about making choices and exercising the heart: I had always wanted to carry a movie. Renting space in a real casino was out of the question and a dressed set in a room of an abandoned hotel served as the gambling casino in the film. I wanted to do something that at least people would talk about. In , The Sydney Morning Herald declared, "Donna Deitch's Desert Hearts is widely regarded as one of the best and most significant mainstream fiction films about lesbians. She claimed that Patricia Charbonneau's "magic" came from hormonal glow, as she had found out she was pregnant before shooting began. The scene was shot on the second-to-last day of filming, with cinematographer Robert Elswit and a boom operator as the only crew members present. Now, if I never make another one, I've done this. Deitch's refusal to feature the straight world's reaction to lesbianism as the focus of her film made all the difference in the way the relationship between the women was perceived by audiences. For the first time, I feel I've done a complete work on film. For a coming-out movie, it's as good as it gets. The names of the main characters were changed: In LA I convinced them it would be a box office hit. Even if they hated it, they'd be talking about it. Deitch noticed the chemistry between Charbonneau and Helen Shaver immediately. This is the point at which many heterosexual critics disqualify themselves from perceptively reviewing gay films. Donna Deitch assured her over the phone that she was right for her movie and told her she refused to hang up the phone until she got an answer. After five minutes, Shaver accepted the role. Prince, author and executive director of North Jersey Pride, wrote in that Desert Hearts "was refreshingly different, not only because the characters weren't psychotic, but also because it didn't end in depressing, unrequited love Raising funds took almost four years. She eventually sold her house to cover completion costs.
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