Freeheld appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I felt pleased with this solid visual presentation.
Sharpness seemed strong. Only a smidgen of softness ever occurred, as the majority of the flick came across as concise and well-defined. I saw no signs of jaggies or shimmering, and edge haloes stayed absent. Print flaws also didn’t become a distraction, as the image stayed clean.
In terms of palette, Freeheld favored an tan tint. Some purples, blues and oranges also materialized, but the amber dominated. Within those choices, the tones looked fine. Blacks appeared dark and tight, and shadows were mostly smooth; a few interiors were a little opaque, but not to a significant degree. Ultimately this ended up as a nice transfer.
For a character movie, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Freeheld demonstrated decent range. As expected, the soundscape stayed fairly low-key, though a few scenes – like those in bars or on the seaside – added a bit of life. When appropriate, the material spread to the side and back speakers. These moments remained relatively rare, though, so expect a pretty laid-back soundfield.
Audio quality worked fine. Speech sounded natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music seemed rich and full, and effects offered clear, accurate material. Again, the film’s scope meant the mix lacked much pizzazz, but it suited the story.
As we move to extras, we launch with an audio commentary from director Peter Sollett and actors Julianne Moore and Ellen Page. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at how they came to the project, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, editing, music and related areas.
Actor commentaries can be dodgy, as they often turn into superficial lovefests. A little of that tendency occurs here, but Moore and Page deliver quite a few good insights into their craft. Sollett can act more as interviewer than participant, but he does this well and he contributes useful thoughts of his own. The track occasionally drags but it usually provides an intriguing glimpse of various filmmaking processes.
Two featurettes follow. The Making of Freeheld runs 13 minutes, 55 seconds and offers info from Moore, Page, Sollett, documentary director/.producer Cynthia Wade, producer Michael Shamberg, writer Ron Nyswaner, costume designer Stacey Battat, production designer Jane Musky, and actors Steve Carell and Michael Shannon. We learn about the original documentary and its adaptation for the feature, casting, characters and performances, costumes and production design. This offers a fairly basic behind the scene piece, but it’s decent.
During the eight-minute, 53-second Freeheld to Freedom: Ocean County Then and Now, we hear from Stacie Andree, Dane Wells, and Lynda Hester-D’Orio. The featurette gives us an update on the real-life people behind the movie’s characters. Though this offers a short snapshot, I like that we get to hear what happened to them after the film’s events.
Next we get the original 2007 Freeheld Documentary on which the movie was based. It goes for 38 minutes, 49 seconds and shows us the real events behind the film’s adaptation. This program gives us a more powerful view of the subject than we find in the feature itself, so it’s a strong piece.
The disc opens with ads for Stonewall, Spare Parts, and The Impossible. No trailer for Freeheld appears here.
With a good cast and an important story, I hoped Freeheld would deliver a compelling drama. As hard as the actors try, however, the movie tends to drag and it lacks the emotional heft it needs. The Blu-ray brings us good picture, adequate audio and a small but solid set of supplements. Well-meaning as it may be, Freeheld falters as a movie.