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Freedom Writers
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Reviews & Ratings for
Freedom Writers More at IMDbPro »

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258 out of 299 people found the following review useful:

Don't listen to the naysayers

Author: bandislife-1 from United States
5 January 2007

I read the message boards before seeing the movie and wasn't really that excited to go see it. Yes, the general storyline has been done before...

I'm a male teenager and this movie made me cry. I can't remember the last time a movie made me cry... in fact, I don't think I have (teary-eyed doesn't count). Freedom Writers moved me.

It was so much better than I expected. All I can say is that it is definitely worth at least a matinée viewing.

The movie reminded me that all of America isn't like white middle-class suburbia, of which I am a part. Regardless of how many times the same movie has been done before, the white middle-class can use as many reminders as possible that education is not that easy to obtain everywhere. Even in America, opportunity is not equal, and I think it's important for people to see that.

Don't judge the movie without seeing it.

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161 out of 195 people found the following review useful:

Truly Moving Picture

Author: tollini from United States
15 December 2006

I saw this film on December 13th, 2006 in Indianapolis. I am one of the judges for the Heartland Film Festival's Truly Moving Picture Award. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." Heartland gave that award to this film.

Woodrow Wilson High School is located in Long Beach, California. The school is voluntarily integrated, and it isn't working. The Asians, the Blacks, the Latinos, and a very few whites not only don't get along, but also stay with their own and are part of protective and violent gangs. There isn't much teaching or learning going on at the school. It is a warehouse for young teenagers until they can drop out or are kicked out.

With this background, an idealistic teacher (Hilary Swank) arrives to teach Freshmen English. She is very educated, pretty, middle class, non-ethnic, well-dressed, and smart. From day one, she doesn't fit in the classroom with these tough kids, and she doesn't fit in with the faculty, who have all but given up and resigned themselves to being the keepers of the student warehouse.

But our idealistic teacher will not give up. She slowly and painfully tries to teach by first learning about "…the pain…" the students feel. She encourages each of her students to keep a journal of their painful and difficult life, and then to share the journal with her. She also attempts to get the four ethnic groups to come together by getting them to recognize what they have in common; specifically, their music, their movies, their broken families, and their broken community surroundings.

While struggling with the students, she has to deal at the same time with two complicated and demanding male relationships. Her husband (Patrick Dempsey) is often supportive, but often jealous of her time commitments. Her father (Scott Glenn) is often disappointed of her career choice, but often proud of her courage and tenacity.

This story feels real. It is beautifully done. The acting of Swank, Dempsey and Glenn is professional and believable. More importantly the story highlights our society's challenges in schooling the children of poor and one-parent families.

The movie doesn't give miracle answers. But it does give hope. And in the end, sincere effort appears to count for something … maybe everything.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.

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118 out of 147 people found the following review useful:

Fine By Me

9/10
Author: wonkatania3 from United States
5 January 2007

I walked into the movie theater with the ticket in my hand thinking about how many other movies I have seen like the one I am about to watch. "Remember the Titans", "Stand and Deliver", "Dangerous Minds", and the list goes on and on. And so I sat in my comfy chair that rocks back and forth so my back doesn't get stiff. Of course, my theater has stadium seating so someone's big head doesn't get in the way of my movie experience. And of course, I had to sit in the row with the railing in front of it so I could put my feet up, because I wasn't going to be uncomfortable while I play critic for this movie...what are you, crazy? Then, the movie began. and it ran and I was quiet. I laughed a little and cried a little, but not for one second was I criticizing. As I saw the characters go through their horribly troubled lives and while I was reminded of little Anne Frank, I became somewhat guilty about silently complaining that I got the squeaky seat or that my friend ate all the popcorn five minutes into the movie.

Likewise, when the movie was over, I had nothing negative to say. It wasn't that I was biting my tongue, it was that I wasn't paying attention to the mistakes of the movie (wherever they were) because I was so engrossed in the plot...you know, the one I said had been done before. the movie made me realize that gang violence and racial intolerance are just as big issues today as EVER. And I decided that as long as people are isolated because of their race and as long as people innocently die in the midst of a gang war, it's okay for this plot to live on...it gives hope to those who go to bed with one eye open, and who go to school everyday wondering if they'll live to see their own graduation.

And for me? For someone like me who complains about hastily eaten popcorn? It makes me count my blessings just a LITTLE bit more frequently. And any movie with a tired, overdone plot that can do that...well, it's fine by me.

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131 out of 176 people found the following review useful:

Saw this movie!

Author: sheispocahontas from United States
27 October 2006

Wow! What a movie! I was in tears most of the time. Very, very intense movie. It was great! I didn't realize it was based on a true story and that made the whole point of the movie even better. I recommend this to everyone. A must see especially if you relate to it in any way shape or form. I think it shines hope on disadvantaged youth and great encouragement to defy all obstacles! Hillary Swank plays a great role in this film and now Im gonna go out and buy the book. My son saw this movie and was also in tears. He realized how blessed he is and how there's no excuse to not finish high school and go on to college! i will be adding these movie to my collection!

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102 out of 152 people found the following review useful:

Great Film

10/10
Author: crayZmunkee from United States
24 October 2006

I went to a special screening last night. I was hugely impressed. I actually cried, a rarity for me. It was moving and poignant. I will watch it again and again.

I won't spoil it for anyone, but I think the ideas about education expressed are universal, regardless of the race of either the teacher or the students.

I was also impressed by the soundtrack and cinematography, and how they incorporated the diaries into the story.

As usual, Hillary Swank puts in a good performance.

I have not read the book, so I don't know how it compares, but I am looking into purchasing a copy.

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78 out of 105 people found the following review useful:

You will NOT be disappointed!

Author: joshua-o-massel from United States
27 December 2006

Great movie! I just saw an advanced screening, and was taken aback. I went into it not knowing a lot about what the movie was about, but expecting a "Dangerous Minds" Knock-off, but was surprised at how much I really loved this. It's not like an award-winning film; however, it is definitely worth checking out. And, without a fear of losing my masculinity, I can honestly say that there were two, maybe three scenes that I had to bite my lip and try to not tear up... if you can watch this movie and not get misty eyed at least once there is something wrong. There were actually scenes where the packed theater clapped and cheered, and other times when everyone gasped at the same time.. it will keep you entertained and you will walk away glad you came to see it.

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61 out of 82 people found the following review useful:

8.5 out of 10 - very nice

Author: wynblade from United States
7 December 2006

I just arrived home after having seen a screening of this film. It's very strong and moves well. It is very emotional, but is balanced well with humor. Even better it's true to life humor, things that would actually happen. you are drawn into the "family" that is the class and you are led to see the changes taking place in people, instead of having it shoved in your face like your too basic to understand.

I would also like to note the music. It was wonderful and did what music is meant to for movies, setting the moods the score was present in the background but not overwhelming (as in so many other movies lately) the music didn't overshadow the story that was unfolding in any way.

Overall a very good movie that I will be happy to see again, and even happy to pay full ticket price (which is saying something!). Great job and thank you to all who worked on this movie, in my eyes it's a winner. ^_^

"My badness" *chuckle*

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52 out of 69 people found the following review useful:

A superior entry in a long history . . .

Author: John DeSando (jdesando@columbus.rr.com) from Columbus, Ohio
2 January 2007

"Everyone who remembers his own educational experience remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the kingpin of the educational situation." Sidney Hook, Education for Modern Man

It would be easy to criticize Freedom Writers as just another cliché-infested classroom redemption story, more Blackboard Jungle than History Boys. But because it is based on a true story of at-risk students attending Woodrow Wilson High in Long Beach, a voluntarily integrated school, I have to avoid accusing it of being derivative and offer that it relates the essential truth about education: Most students have a voice if a teacher can find it; most students can thrive when a teacher creates a sense of family amid chaos, as Emily Gruwell did in the early '90's of Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. The diaries her students wrote inspired students around the country to do the same.

Seeing the photo of the real Gruwell with her students as the end credits roll, I can understand cynics saying this is typical Hollywood—no teacher can look like Hillary Swank! But rising above the petty carping that includes skepticism about transformation of unruly kids into real students within a year, I have to admit it happened because of the transforming power of love and words. As in Charlotte's Web, both ingredients are potent reformers of the disaffected.

Gruwell sacrifices, as cases of true love sometimes require, her personal freedom and loses her marriage for the higher good of the young people she teaches. Admittedly, her slacker husband, Scott (Patrick Dempsey), doesn't deserve such a gifted wife, and her crusty dad, Steve (a monumentally weathered Scott Glenn), has some stereotypical responses to his daughter's choices. Most of all I object to those actors as students: They are way too old to be playing 14 and 15 year olds. Surely there are gifted teens who could do the job! Overall, however, the film rings true about the magic a dedicated teacher can do with rebellious but malleable teens.

For those of us who still toil in the fields of education, Freedom Writers reminds us why we love a profession that gives us a chance to save souls in the only way we can certify outside the uncertain faith of religion. This film is a superior entry in a long history of teaching brought to its ideal form in film.

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52 out of 73 people found the following review useful:

Good Movie!!!

Author: loala143 from United States
28 November 2006

I saw this screening and I must say, it was actually a really good movie. Once again Hilary Swank did a terrific job as always! I know it's based on a true story but I'm pretty sure it must have been exaggerated a little. I've been to Long Beach and I know it's not that bad. But then again, this was back in the 90's so it could possibly be true. I also agree that Mario puts on a good performance. For a while, I forgot he was Mario. He really played his character Andre really well. The actors that played gangsters, dealers really looked like gangsters and dealers so that was good too see. Also, Hilary Swank looks a lot like the real Erin Gruwell so that was actually pretty cool. Overall, the movie is good. Definitely better than Dangerous Minds. My grade is an "A".

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62 out of 93 people found the following review useful:

Spirit Booster

10/10
Author: McBitter from United States
8 January 2007

This film was terrific! Very good! The acting by everyone, especially by Hilary Swank, was great. If you are in the mood for an inspirational film than you should go see this film. It puts you in a really good mood and makes you feel great! 'Freedom Writers' was filled with drama, humor, and more. It was a really nice film and a must see. 'Freedom Writers', has something for everybody. It is a film that people will love no matter what and who they are. A++++++ **** Go see this great film! It will literally set you in a good mood. P.S. It will probably make you cry so bring that special tissue box used for whatever your tears need!

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