Critic Reviews



Based on 29 critic reviews provided by
L.A. Weekly
It all sounds like a recipe for the most noxious liberal jerk-off movie since "Crash," but in the hands of writer-director Richard LaGravenese, Freedom Writers turns out to be a superb piece of mainstream entertainment -- not an agonized debate over the principles of modern education à la "The History Boys," but a simple, straightforward and surprisingly affecting story of one woman who managed to make a difference.
Freedom Writers delivers the expected messages about hope and the ability to change one's destiny, and does it in a manner that it is emotionally and intellectually satisfying.
Chicago Tribune
Hilary Swank gives a powerhouse performance as a maverick high school teacher in Freedom Writers, an often gripping and sometimes even inspiring film drama taken from the real-life story of Erin Gruwell.
Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank) is real, and for all the dramatic license that writer/director Richard LaGravenese takes in his film, her story -- and the stories of her students -- are moving.
It takes the bold approach of being earnest, honest and unafraid to be called naive. As a result, it's extremely affecting.
In Freedom Writers Hilary Swank uses neediness to fine effect in a film with a strong emotional tug and smartly laid foundation.
Dramatically, the movie never veers from its predictable course, but Swank's performance renders the point moot. There likely was a better, more original movie to be made focusing more on the Freedom Writers themselves, but if this more conventional direction had to be taken, it's hard to imagine a more affecting version.
It offers a sort of Chinese food poignancy, the kind that may seem satisfying at the time but ultimately leaves us hungering for more, for something authentic.
The Hollywood Reporter
The film is both too short and too long at two hours-plus. Not enough time is spent with the teens and far too much with their teacher.
The movie itself offers few real answers to the problems teachers face.

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