December 29, 2006
Last night, Julia and I went to a special screening of Freedom Writers with a friend and I must say, I was very impressed. When I first saw the trailer, I was expecting another variation on the troubled students overcome obstacles story much like Lean on Me, Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds and the original, To Sir, With Love.
Were this movie differs from others I’ve seen is how the problems that the students faced seemed so real. I think that difference comes from the fact that the personal struggles were based on their stories rather than the faculty and staff. I could bore you with the quality of the performances and the cinematography but if you spend too much time noticing those things then you aren’t being sucked into the story, which you should, and I was. It was very easy to get emotionally attached to the characters and their lives and hope and grieve with them. This movie could easily by longer by spending more on the personal stories and backgrounds of the students and I doubt many would complain but I didn’t feel like it was lacking anything and yet also feel compelled to read the book.
“Freedom Writers” is inspired by a true story and the diaries of real Long Beach teenagers after the LA riots, during the worst outbreak of interracial gang warfare. Two-time Academy Award? winner Hilary Swank stars as Erin Gruwell, whose passion to become a teacher is soon challenged by a group of Black, Latino, and Asian gangbangers who hate her even more than each other. When Erin begins to listen to them in a way no adult has ever done, she begins to understand that for these kids, getting through the day alive is enough — they are not delinquents but teenagers fighting “a war of the streets” that began long before they were born. Erin gives them something they never had from a teacher before — respect. For the first time, these teens experience a hope that maybe, they might show the world that their lives matter and they have something to say.