Monday, June 25, 2007

Home Video: Freedom Writers

Freedom Writers
Directed by Richard LaGravenese
Released January 5, 2007

This inspiring teacher story is full of genre cliches and far too many moving speeches but is nonetheless a decent film based on a true story. This can be best compared to "Stand and Deliver", the 1988 film starring Oscar-nominated (for his performance) Edward James Olmos as a teacher who inspires his students to work hard and excel in calculus. This time, however, the teacher is not Olmos but rather the unflinchingly irritating Hilary Swank. Her constant cheeriness and bouncy nature pervades the film and the message she is trying to send. Whenever she tries to act serious, it comes off as ineffective because she is just too darn happy the rest of the time. Patrick Dempsey is irreconcilably wooden as her estranged husband, and usually great actors Imelda Staunton (see "Vera Drake" right now) and Scott Glenn have boring parts. The ensemble of kids is pretty good. The film seems to run fairly long at only two hours, in addition to skipping over interesting developments for the sake of telling a broader story more quickly. Overall, an occasionally moving but more often corny take on a true, moving story.


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