'Writers' breaks free of banal stories about rough schools

The Baltimore Sun

Freedom Writers is the rare inspirational-teacher film that is filled with genuine, jaw-dropping coups of real-life poetry.

Set in the early '90s, it's based on the true story of black, Asian-American and Latino gangs who disrupted the upper-class, white demographic of Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif., in the first years after busing. Faced with a clueless faculty, they exploded the placid atmosphere. In the xenophobic frenzy that followed the Rodney King verdict, they turned the school into a war zone.

Freedom Writers (Paramount) Starring Hilary Swank, Patrick Dempsey, Imelda Staunton, Scott Glenn, April Lee Hernandez, Mario. Directed by Richard LaGravanese. Rated PG-13. Time 123 minutes.

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