"Freedom Writers" is the Good Gang

Genres: Drama, Adaptation, Biopic and Teen
Release Date: January 5th, 2007 (wide)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violent content, some thematic material and language. Distributors: Paramount Pictures
Directed by: Richard LaGravenese

JJ Rating: A

Freedom Writers is about a new teacher by the name of Erin Gruwell who arrives at a school eager to teach. What she finds is a school that is overran with gangs that are split down racial lines. Even her classroom sits according to race. She tries out her lesson plans and gets nowhere until she cracks down on an insult that was drawn by one of the students. After that she changes things up and adapts to what is going on in her classroom. What occurs in this movie is based on actual events and makes school seem like they just do their job because they have to not because they want to.

Hilary Swank acts like she wore her emotions on her sleeve and that if she smiled she really was smiling and not faking. I saw Erin Gruwell on CNN and for the moment they talked to her I saw the same thing. She had that same aura about her. She showed her emotions and it felt genuine. Based on that and what I had thought before seeing CNN, Swank did a great job. She’s just a great actress and one of my favorites.

Some parents have this fear about public schools and one of the big reasons is the influences that their child could encounter. This movie showed one of those influences which are gangs. But this movie also shows how one teacher can change the lives of an entire class because she tried hard enough to reach them. This is what makes teachers more awesome than any home school or non-schooling home in this country. They only have to deal with their children so the work they do isn’t miraculous it’s what they should be doing. But with teachers, they have so much riding against them that if they pull off something phenomenal - as Gruwell did - it is miraculous.

I love this movie and yes there are other movies that are about teachers that have them change the lives of the students they teach and no, I don’t think there will ever be enough of them. Students are important and just because they are in a poor school or act like they don’t care doesn’t mean the system should ignore them or give up on them. Movies like this prove that the potential for greatness is not surface deep. That if someone wants to get a diamond from a chunk of coal they have to put it through extreme pressure. That is what some students are: a lump of coal. Teachers have to be willing to strive harder to reach them and see that shinning diamond they hid within.

I know this is like preaching but Freedom Writers shows what I believe so much. I don’t know if I could be her and go into a classroom and get them to want to learn. I think those kinds of people are hard to find but are very much needed.

Freedom Writers is awesome story telling. It’s touching. It grabs the attention and shows how ignorance breeds contempt and how getting to know someone you thought you didn’t like might be the best idea yet. I don’t want to say everything that I love about this movie because if you don’t fully know how the story goes it’s a nice surprise as to what goes on. The movie is serious but it has its funny moments. I don’t see how it can be disappointing outside the fact that someone was forced to see it and really didn’t want to.

I am going to buy this movie because it is inspiring. Even though I believe that everyone has something interesting within them sometimes it’s really difficult to continue to believe it when that person is being so difficult. Freedom Writers will be a constant reminder that difficult is a defense against the unknown and that if the right maneuvers are preformed, the defense will come down. Then the interesting ‘diamond’ will shine and all the hard work will be gratifying.

Freedom Writers starts off like a lump of coal but the pressure is applied and in the end it shines like a diamond, forever engraved in the mind as an experience not to be forgotten.

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