Writing the Storm Out
Freedom Writers
Review by Ross Anthony

The film takes to the screen with gritted teeth and an edgy determination to teach something worthwhile. April Lee Hernandez as Eva jumpstarts the production with a thick-skinned performance worthy of Oscar mention. I thought I’d mention it here since, unfortunately, academy awards memories aren’t quite long enough to stretch back to January releases. Speaking of which, Swank is also strong in a role which could have very easily been played too cheesy. In fact, that was my biggest worry for this little film – that it, on the whole, would play too cheesy. But, in fact, on the whole it doesn’t. Well, there is that one scene, with “hero” dialogue and blocking that slips into hokey. But on the whole, this film is as determined as Erin Gruwell to educate and inspire its audiences. And like her students, our demands to be entertained and engaged at the same time – are met. It’s not a smooth picture, and it certainly has its faults, but with such strong performances and a tear jerking message, the heart of the matter comes barreling through its sometimes rickety structure.

Backing Hillary and April, all others give compelling performances. So kudos to the director for that kind of overall success. Most characters are believable and likeable, save for Erin’s husband played by Patrick Dempsey. He’s likeable but written so paper thin that he’s simply not believable. Still, his inclusion – even faulted, adds to the breadth and depth of the picture.

It’s a film of moving moments. There are many to pick from, but the moment that hit me hardest was a quote from one of the class’s staunchest kids. When asked what he dared to hope for he said, “To be eighteen.”

It’s not the first good inspirational film in the realm of urban education: “Stand and Deliver,” “Coach Carter” to name just too. But it is quite deserving of your interest. I’d recommend it for use in the classroom. In fact, as a current writer of teen novels myself, it’s inspired me to give a free class set of one of my titles to the first inner city teacher to contact me and request it. (Photo below is of Actress Hillary Swank and Teacher Erin Gruwell)

freedomwriters

“I wanted to make education come to life, to make the words leap off the page.... I wanted my students to realize that each and every one of them had an odyssey of their own. I was hoping to bring them across [the] bridge and teach them that education is a great liberating force and will equalize the playing field. Being educated didn’t mean that they had to disregard who they are and where they came from, but it was important for them to understand that there was a whole world out there.” Erin Gruwell

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  • Freedom Writers. Copyright © 2007.
  • Starring Hillary Swank, April Lee Hernandez, Patrick Dempsey, Mario, Scott Glenn, Jason Finn, Hunter Parrish.
  • Directed by Richard Lagravenese.
  • Screenplay by Richard Lagravenese.
  • Produced by Stacey Sher, Micahel Shambert at Paramount/MTV/Jersey.

Grade..........................A (3.5/4)


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Copyright © 1998-2016 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Thursday, 18-Jan-2007 09:52:38 PST