It's 1994 in Long Beach, California. Idealistic Erin Gruwell is just starting her first teaching job, that as freshman and sophomore English teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School, which, two years earlier, implemented a voluntary integration program. For many of the existing teachers, the integration has ruined the school, whose previously stellar academic standing has been replaced with many students who will be lucky to graduate or even be literate. Despite choosing the school on purpose because of its integration program, Erin is unprepared for the nature of her classroom, whose students live by generations of strict moral codes of protecting their own at all cost. Many are in gangs and almost all know somebody that has been killed by gang violence. The Latinos hate the Cambodians who hate the blacks and so on. The only person the students hate more is Ms. Gruwell. It isn't until Erin holds an unsanctioned discussion about a recent drive-by shooting death that she fully begins to ...Written by
True story about a young teacher (Hilary Swank) who comes to a rough part of inner-city Los Angeles in the mid-1990s and inspires her high school students through expression via personal writings. A wide range of ethnic and cultural divisions provide difficulties aplenty with gang activity and general mischief being the orders of the day and it is up to Swank to pull through the layers of grief, anger and despair to help her students not only succeed in the classroom, but also in life. Inspirational and a bit cheesy at the same time, "Freedom Writers" still uses a proved formula to work well for the most part. Swank is dominant (as she always seems to be) and she gets ample support from good young performers, a smart screenplay and adequate direction. 4 stars out of 5.
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