Freedom Writers B

A Film Review By Stefan Vlahov

While Hillary Swank won’t be nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in Freedom Writers, but it is a film she can definitely be proud of. It’s endlessly apparent from the first scene of the film what the screenplay by veteran Richard LaGravenese will offer up – a standard urban struggle drama with Dangerous Minds undertones. But his script goes above and beyond in the way it chooses the situations to be displayed on screen. His script is one that delves deeper than most urban films have gone and the resolutions that are reached by the students in the film are not only inspiring, since they absolutely have to be, but are also put on such a pedestal that the hopelessness that transpires early in the script is replaced by soft optimism so well, that the pulls at the heartstrings can almost be physically felt by the audience. If Freedom Writers is more successful than most films to get you teary-eyed, it’s probably due to the great acting found throughout the film. From the big names like Imelda Staunton, Hillary Swank, and Patrick Dempsey, to newcomers April Hernandez and Kristin Herrera, the performances are believable and just over-the-top enough at times to be called enjoyable. It’s also a relief that the melodrama here is sparked mostly from expressions and emotions, not from over-bearing dialogue and cliched lines. The ending of the film is all too predictable though, but it’s very much alright here, because like in the excellent Coach Carter, the target of the film is the poor at best educational system in inner-city areas. These kids are not given a chance and a proper education as one of the students admits about not knowing what the Holocaust is. Still, the film’s greatest strength is its intensity and its powerful emotional core that will not leave a dry eye in the house. Recommended.

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