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The opening scene kicks-off with voice-overs of police chatter and news reporters covering the disaster of LA riots with a background of a raw LA Riots footage rolling at the same time, showcasing the carnage and brutality of the worst riots ever recorded in US History. Over a minute long recording by a resident nearby names George Holliday of Rodney king an African-American resisting arrest for driving under influence and being beaten up brutally by four white policemen ignited hatred and unrest in whole black community. That was just the beginning, what erupted the volcano of protest and prejudice was the acquittal of three out of four policemen who were charged for using excessive force on King. The protest spread it's vicious pangs throughout the city and within days there were horrendous riots all over the city.
Freedom Writers is based on the book called "The Freedom Writers Diary," which is a true story of Erin Gruwell played by Hilary Swank and the memorable students from the classroom 203 of Wilson high School. Richard La Gravenese (Director) says everything in the movie is true, which tells us immediately that we are up for some crude, hard-hitting, on your face truth for the next two hours!
Its Two years since the Rodney King Riots (LA Riots), Gruwell decides to teach the Wilson High school as a Freshman and Sophomore teacher. She thinks the VIP (Voluntary Integration Program) is a good opportunity to shape young minds and not let them be consumed by the racist mentality which became the part of neighbourhoods. The rest of her colleagues will always have a bone to pick on her, either for her blunt honesty or her compassion to help her students from Room 203.
Imelda Staunton pulls of rather egotistical and self righteous character of school departments head Margaret Campbell with a lot of tenacity. Her introductory scene with Gruwell in which she advice her not wear her expensive pearl necklace to her class immediately makes Gruwell sink in uneasiness. As if the Room 203 is not full of students, but a bunch of low life gang-bangers who might just slit her throat for those pearls!
Gruwell’s relentless in her attempts to break the walls of racial hatred built by the students of classroom 203. Gruwell almost breaks the wall of discontent and hatred by forcing her students to play the game called "on the line!" which is one of the most heartfelt and powerful scenes of the movie. Gruwell as a part of school project gives every student a journal to write about themselves and their daily experiences. As they grow fonder to Miss G (Gruwell) they start sharing their struggles, hardships and happiness in their journals.
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The story runs along with the voice over narration of student’s describing about their past horror's and current living situation's. Richard has given importance to three specific stories, the first one is Eva’s played by the debutant April Lee Hernandez. She does a befitting justice towards her character who is conflicted between morals of protecting her own people or doing the right thing. Andre played by the singer Mario is sharp and effortlessly pulls off the role of boy who’s forced into drug –dealing because of his crude circumstances. The surprise package here is Marcus played by Jason Finn. A tall, Strong, soft-hearted, with deep eyes, curly hair and mellow chubby face, who gets kicked out by her mother for joining a gang, melts your heart in few brilliant scenes.
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Freedom writer is one emotionally heavy ride with countless moments which will make you feel sad, bitter and gleeful from time to time. The stories of students are well scripted and screenplay deserves a standing applaud. Although there are few glitches in direction, especially the smoothness which was required to move from one story to another is less transitional and more hurried, but the screenplay and writing of Richard makes up for his own minor directional flaw.
Hilary Swank as Erin Gruwell or Miss G is Headstrong, fierce, sacrificing and pulls off a yet another "Million Dollar Baby," performance! Scott as husband played by Patrick Dempsey and Steve Gruwell father of Erin played by Scott Glenn, both have a very minimum role, but they play their part as anchors of Erin's life amicably. The dark horse of the movie is its background score by Mark Isham and Will.I.Am it blends in with every scene and gives them soul and vigor. Not so long time ago Nelson Mandela said "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others,'' So true are these immortal words!
Freedom Writers - Trailer .......