Freedom writers with a cast led by 2 time academy award winner Hilary Swank is a mesmorising, tear-provoking, inspirational journey of room 203 at a long beach high school where a class of deemed “un-teachable” teenagers wanting more out of life, led by their teacher just might make their dream of a better life come true.
The story starts as a pretty typical “urban movie” with guns, beatings and general misbehaviour while introducing the character “Eva” to us who we soon learn has lost her father to jail after a misunderstanding led him to be arrested, we then move to the classroom where it tricks you into thinking it will be just another film about a school where a teacher makes a difference and seeming to take its story from “dangerous minds” your guide is let down as if your mind knows what’s coming. As she struggles to maintain the attention of the class a note is been passed around to which is revealed to contain a racist picture of the black student, this is where the story goes in a whole new direction as Erin begins to tell the class about the holocaust and outlines the students legacy will only be their negativity, from here the class start to read the book of Anne Frank and begin to relate to her situation and are soon raising money to bring Miep Gies (the woman who housed Anne Frank) to the United States to meet them. I found the story to be very heart-felt, deeply grounded and kept true to everyday life unlike numerous movies in the same genre which is helped from been a true story.
The acting is exceptional with stand out performances, Hilary Swank is as always sensational as the lead character Erin Gruwell with lots of depth and heart to her as she sacrifices her own marriage to provide for the kids including getting 2 extra jobs to provide books and trips for the “family” as they referred to themselves. Eva is a troubled and confused girl with a hard home life fuelled by her families views she “hates white people on sight” I feel her character grows the most throughout the movie as she ends as a proud woman standing for what is right rather then right for her family. Andre played by Musician Mario is 1 of the surprises as he puts in a good all round performance from comedy moments to emotional scenes, struggling with drug dealing been pressured onto him he puts trust in Erin and his new found family to bring him his own redemption. These are just the main performances that catch my eye every actor and actress who graces the screen is at a very high standard.
As this is a drama there are no real big visual effects to speak of beside 1 scene in particular when each member of the class is reading parts from their diary and you get a mix/fade effect of the character as they speak their part flashing in and out of the classroom, other such effects as camera movements used by director’s such as Michael Bay with the camera rotating around Erin as she reads the diaries are used to create ambiance and to get you to focus on her, it doesn’t look fake and is done very well, despite been made by MTV nothing music video style here. The effects are perfectly chosen and used necessarily to bring the words to life.
Overall I found the film breathtakingly emotional and powerful with a very positive message, “try hard and you will succeed in life” you finish the movie feeling lucky for your own circumstances and for the things around you others do not have. The music I must also add gives the movie a off screen character of it’s own as it sets the mood of the scene and is used perfectly in all occasions as the lyrics in the songs relate to the story it’s been streamed over. The truly gripping story Freedom Writers takes from is put on screen in a truly wonderful portrayal without over dramatising or over acting any of the scenes; they play out very natural. My only negative comment about the movie is I don’t believe for 1 moment any of the class are 14, the actors are all older but the story is so moving you don’t question it. To sum up this is a fantastic movie and would recommend it to anyone of all ages and gender. This is NOT just another movie about teens in a bad area this is the movie the others wanted to be.