‘Freedom Writers’ brings hope

By Stacie Wieland

“Freedom Writers” is based on the true story of Erin Gruwell and her students in Room 203 at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif., in 1994, when the Rodney King riots were still fresh in the minds of many.

In the film, the audience is introduced to one of Gruwell’s English classes: a class that is divided racially, economically and socially. She struggles to teach and connect with the class, until a gang-related tragedy and a racial caricature brings everything into focus.

Giving each student a journal, Gruwell asks that they write daily entries about anything and everything. What she finds within each journal’s pages are the everyday lives of her students, filled with dreams, fears, wants, needs and oftentimes, a very harsh reality.

Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank plays the role of Gruwell, and she does so with elegance and class. However, her performance should not be the sole reason to see this film, as she is not the one who steals the show – the students do. It is their lives and their stories that will touch and leave moviegoers breathless, in shock, and even in tears.

For lack of a better phrase, this is a very special film. This film can cause goose bumps before the characters are introduced. This film forces those watching to come face-to-face with painful, real-life problems that can and do happen every day. This film shows the ugly faces of racism and hatred. This film shows anyone who ever thought one person could not make a difference that that belief is a lie.

This is a film that gives hope.

“Freedom Writers” is the real deal, and the experience is nothing short of extraordinary.