Everyone's a critic: 'Freedom Writers'

Friday, January 12, 2007

Three stars (out of four)

Based on a true story, "Freedom Writers" is a prime example of the famous quote by Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Hilary Swank is cast as Erin Gruwell, an inexperienced teacher recently hired to educate a class of self-segregated students. While her students are entrenched with the daily challenges of metropolitan gang life, Erin Gruwell faces her own obstacles as she works to reintegrate her classroom.

In the midst of school violence, a collection of calloused peers and a failing marriage, nothing will stop this innovative and compassionate educator from connecting with her pupils. This is a wonderful film depicting the real struggles many children face on a day-to-day basis. Their intimate journal writings are heart-wrenching and genuine. Surrounded by stars such as Patrick Dempsey and Scott Glen, Swank offers a stunning performance in this humble role.

-- Jerry Swan

Four stars (out of four)

This is the one movie you should go and see with your teenagers. If anything, this movie will open your eyes to what we in this town of ours can only imagine -- what others face day to day in the inner-city schools of the larger cities of L.A., Chicago and New York.

If you decide to watch this movie, please leave the children under 13 at home. "Freedom Writers" has violence they shouldn't see at their age. But if you have teens at home, please take this chance to watch this movie together.

"Freedom Writers" takes place in California when gang violence was at a high and where one teacher, with her hopes of making a difference, found a way to get through to these children of gang wars.

They all had been shot at, lost a friend or relative to gang shootings, lived on the streets. She saw the pain of life in their eyes. When she tried to get the school board to help with textbooks for them to read, she was turned down.

She took on two other jobs to help pay for the books and field trips, one of which was the museum of the Holocaust. There they learned how prejudice brought on a war all its own. They were enlightened by the book "The Diary of Anne Frank."

If this movie will do anything, it will tell you that no matter how bad you think your life is, there is one worse. And if one person in your life has faith in you, then the words "I can't" shouldn't be in your vocabulary.

-- Verbal Walter

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