Freedom Writers

…………..And while we are on the subject of love, hope and change in unlikely places, please watch Freedom Writers starring Hilary Swank as an idealistic young teacher, apparently foolish enough to wear a string of pearls in her new job as an English teacher in a tough LA public school. The film gathers pace slowly but it works because it is admirably understated while knowingly utilising the conventions of TV drama.

This is Hollywood all right but it’s thoughtful, closely observed Hollywood. Even the intimate kitchen table scenes featuring agonised conversations between two middle class professionals having ‘relationship issues’ are saved  from banality by the careful, well turned dialogue.

But Swank’s personal relationship is the side show. This is the story of a bunch of gang blasted kids who are slowly led towards a love of learning. They read Anne Frank’s diary in pristine new editions, books denied the students by the hard pressed and cynical management of the school but bought by Swank who works extra shifts as a concierge and underwear saleswoman to pay for them. She gives each student fresh minted A 4 size notebook in which to record their thoughts and the things that happen in their lives. The fragments that are read out are real, I presume, as this film is based on a true life story. It sent shivers down my spine.

2 Responses to Freedom Writers

  1. I loved this film, not for its cinematic or acting qualities but because it showed that listening to each other’s stories is the most powerful way of creating understanding of ‘the other’, and breaking down prejudice and fear of difference. The fact this film is based on a real event makes it vital viewing in my opinion. Every teacher should watch it!

  2. Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed.

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