Freedom Writers (12A)

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The Independent Culture

Freedom Writers is the true story of Erin Gruwell, who taught English at a Long Beach high school shortly after the 1992 race riots. Most of her pupils didn't expect to survive to graduation day, let alone graduate, until Gruwell taught them about Anne Frank, and gave them journals of their own. As heartfelt as it is stomach-turning, the film is exactly the same as every other Inspirational Teacher Drama there's ever been, except for Hilary Swank's bravely uncool performance. She plays Gruwell as a carcinogenically sunny Polyanna in twin set and pearls, so you'd think she'd leave class in a bodybag. But no, all it takes is one well-chosen book and one field-trip, and Gruwell's pupils are crying, holding hands, reading out their journals, and choreographing dance routines with "Mrs G".

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