Set amidst a backdrop of gang violence in L.A, novice teacher Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank) sets about educating a racial mixed class of underprivileged students.
what unfolds is the usual story of poorer children being denied a decent education by those within the system who uphold the prejudices of the wider society. Of course up steps the naive, initiatly inept and well meaning Gruwell in attempt to help.
This storyline has been done before, in Dangerous Minds, Coach Carter, Glory Road to mention but a few.
From a cynical, logical and detached point of view, all the age old maudlin, emotion evoking mechanisms employed by Hollywood are resorted to once more.
On a slightly more emotional note, I found some parts quite poignant when seeing the prejudice, lack of opportunity, neglect and abuse suffered by the characters. The issues I felt were approached from a realistic stance not from a melodramatic or sensationalist one. Unfortunately, the personal struggles contained herein are an accurate portrayal of those faced by the poorest children in America.
Race is an issue in this film and again it was dealt with a fairly realistic, non-sensationalist way. Again the racial aspect of poverty, crime, violence, lack of education was dealt with pretty well.
Gruwell's character is played well by Swank who conveys an air of naivety (at first) yet also sincerity, integrity, and a strong social conscience that drives her to challenge an educational system founded on extreme racial and class prejudices.
Even though this is a familiar storyline, Freedom Writers I found to be genuinely touching at times. Yes it is a typical 'feel good factor' Hollywood film done in a straight forward way, but there is still a strong social/political message attached.