Monday, August 10, 2009

"Freedom Writers" (2007) - Movie Review

“Freedom Writers” hopes to wish the place it tries to be but never does. It summarizes the success story of a teacher Erin Gruwell (Hillary Swank) with a diverse set of students living in the struggled, toughened and dangerous livelihood. It is high on morale but low in adding details to it. For starters will be the antagonists through the unsupportive senior members in the school through Ms. Campbell (Imelda Staunton) and a jerk of a teacher Brian (John Benjamin Hickey). Both of those are made simple crooks than a slave for the system they have failed to try. Then comes the systematic convenience where things happen without any stepping stones.

Erin’s husband played here by Patrick Dempsey is another such whom should have seen more screen because when the dedication of Erin gets too far to the students, the advancement towards the bleakness in their relationship are brushed under. They do have a very nice wine conversation which is the only convincing factor in their relationship. This is though is more about the students and the teacher than her personal life. But making it real depends on the surrounding friends and family to those. Let alone Erin but there are no notable parents around even the worst of the kind to have some change in the progress of the students.

It is indeed a great story of hope and fight. Erin comes as the aspiring and bubbling teacher to this school having a special class for the students labelled as low calibre. There is a territorial war inside and outside with Asians, Blacks and Latinos taking their sides. They are forced to sit in the class than to ignite genuine interests. With death in their guns and street corners, education is not first in their mind. At freshman none of know about holocaust. That becomes the source to invite the same kind of chosen death to them which is rightly taken as the study material by Erin.

As a fragments of fairly put together film, “Freedom Writers” has notable sequences. One such will be when Erin conducts the line game where she asks question of survey to ask to stand near the line from the sides. She starts with who got the new Snoop Dogg album and every one comes to the line. Slowly she shows how not much of different each other are and how dangerously they have seen deaths among their family and friends. They are confronted of those tragedies and see those their destined territorial enemies have the same.

The drawback of the story is the numerous characters to focus upon. Their sufferings are read through the personal journal idea Erin ask them to do. The kids who show no signs of discipline throw the blame game and how Erin tackles them are hidden in the school lockers with no keys. Soon they begin to listen to Erin because of the line game which as much powerful does not persuade a great deal to break the wall out there. May be it happened in real life but when it takes the screen, it does not pass on.

Richard LaGravenese could have had some reality check on this positive story. The disconnect is very visible with compromising for more sudden end and embrace of the obvious. The declared villains of this story as mentioned earlier come as Ms. Campbell and Brian who have given up on their methods. When Brian explodes towards Erin for asking help to get some support for the decision to get more funding for the class, the argument seems more valid and Erin is speechless. I see a man who went the path and disappointed than an unfair teacher. Same goes for Ms. Campbell and hence when Erin does succeed, they are further made into the bad seeds who are desperate to get Erin blocked. That is out of place.

“Freedom Writers” is a good story and a story need to be told. What LaGravenese tried is a noble effort which gets muddled in getting it rosy and clean. There is an outright denial of the gravity of the struggle Erin went through. She is shown to work three jobs to fund her students and in the process losing her personal life. And all seem to sit nicely without any empathy from the audience. We are sympathetic of the resultant without any association. It loses us out there.

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