Aug 022007

Freedom WritersA young teacher (Swank) inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school.

Richard LaGravenese


Hilary Swank, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Glenn, Imelda Staunton, Margaret Campbell, April L. Hernandez, Mario, Kristin Herrera, Jacklyn Ngan, Sergio Montalvo, Jason Finn, Deance Wyatt, Vanetta Smith, Gabriel Chavarria, Hunter Parrish, Antonio García

One of the best 123 minutes I’ve spent. I meant to tearing up a little, especially when the class had a special guest. I don’t why, but I watched that scene several times. I won’t spoil the movie by telling you what it was.

I was well prepared for it to be weak and corny. Freedom writers does not focus on Hilary Swanks’s bleeding heart and how she swoops into save each of these kids from their lives. The focus is on the students and their individual stories, as told when Mrs. G requires them to start keeping a diary. Like a real teacher that is horrified by the violence in her classroom, she uses techniques and exercises to understand for herself and to illustrate to the students the root of their issues and how the “wars” they fight everyday are a cycle that they can break away from. Mrs. G. sacrifices her time and personal life to expose her students to culture and give them learning materials that the school board doesn’t believe her students are worthy of. There is no “Dangerous Minds” style jumping into the fight, arguing with parents or inappropriate attachment or singling out of a favorite student. She is just teaching her students, gives them time and space to learn and be safe and digs into her own resources, only after she sees that they are not available through the proper channels. The end result is touching, without being hoky or corny, and inspirational without being unbelievable.

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