Freedom Writers, Review
2007, ****, Crime-Drama
Hilary Swank, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Glenn, and April Lee Hernandez star in this early 90s true story about a young teacher, Erin Gruwell, who had a vision to change the lives of a group of students at Wilson High School, who were headed down the only path they knew: the gang violence of Long Beach, California. As Swank tries to pursue her goals to teach these young impressionable minds, her marriage begins to crumble. Her father (Scott Glen) and husband (Dempsey) both fear for her safety and don't understand why she wants to stoop down to a level where violence and lack of interest tears her apart. Soon enough, she becomes more than a teacher to the students, she becomes their friend, and a mother figure. She fights the fight, and wins in the end, and instills a new hope and future for these students.
Highly talented actress Hilary Swank leaves an impression for hope and success as the young Ms. G, as they call her in the film. From the beginning Erin Gruwell (Swank, "Million Dollar Baby," "Boys Don't Cry") wanted to make a difference in the newly integrated school system in Los Angeles. She is a new teacher, just learning the ropes of the system, the students, and the effects of a high stress level environment, where students think they are in school to be baby sat all day, until it's time to be out on the streets again, fighting for "their own kind."
Gruwell wants her students to learn, and once they figure out she's not an enemy to them, they want to listen and learn. She isn't given resources, such as books and other classroom materials by the school officials, so she gets 2 part time jobs, to buy books for her students. She creates games, and personal journal writing activities that help the students to learn as well as share their own personal experiences. This helps the students open up and break free from the pain and suffering they've endured in their home life. She is motivated and wants these setbacks to not stand in her way. One of the books they read is The Diary of Anne Frank. This book not only inspires them to tell their own story, but it motivates them to raise money to have the lady who knew and published Anne's Diary to come to the US and speak about her experience with Anne during the holocaust.
This film is fantastic and very inspiring. It shows us that no matter what anyone can accomplish anything. Hard work and determination can do anything. No matter how hard or difficult some of the schoolteachers and officials were against Gruwell's ambition to make a difference in the lives of her students, she kept fighting and spent her own dollar to make it happen.
Swank did an excellent job in this film. This is a must watch film. No matter what kind of story, fiction or non-fiction, all should view a story about inspiring others.