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Freedom Writers (2007)


Average Rating: 6.3/10
Reviews Counted: 124
Fresh: 86
Rotten: 38

Critics Consensus: Freedom Writers is a frank, formulaic entry in the inspirational inner-city teacher genre, with an energetic Hilary Swank leading the appealing cast of unknowns.

Average Rating: 6.3/10
Reviews Counted: 38
Fresh: 25
Rotten: 13

Critics Consensus: Freedom Writers is a frank, formulaic entry in the inspirational inner-city teacher genre, with an energetic Hilary Swank leading the appealing cast of unknowns.


Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 292,220


Movie Info

A dedicated California teacher finds a way to unify her disadvantaged, racially divided students and to improve their grasp of academics, partly by having them keep journals about their violent, troubled lives.

PG-13 (for violent content, some thematic material and language)
Directed By:
Written By:
Erin Gruwell , Freedom Writers , Richard LaGravenese
In Theaters:
Apr 17, 2007
Box Office:
Paramount Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Freedom Writers

All Critics (133) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (86) | Rotten (38) | DVD (29)

Engaging but clichéd inspirational drama set during the time of the 1992 race riots in Los Angeles. On some level, just about any movie featuring never-say-die teachers is effective.

Full Review… | January 11, 2007
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

Square, sincere, and proud of it.

Full Review… | January 10, 2007
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Our eager-beaver heroine suffers the kids' sarcasm, fails to earn their respect by bringing in a Tupac tape, then wins them over in a crucial scene that, fact-based or not, rings as false as anything in Dangerous Minds.

Full Review… | January 9, 2007
Village Voice
Top Critic

Corny? You bet. And worse when the plot veers into the glitz of a Dangerous Minds and the sappiness of a TV After School Special. But the movie, which Swank helped produce by using her clout as a two-time Oscar winner, gets to you.

January 9, 2007
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Freedom Writers is another exceptional teacher scenario not so different from the norm.

Full Review… | January 6, 2007
Top Critic

Thanks to LaGravenese's empathetic writing and direction, and Swank's titanic force of will, Freedom Writers' unabashed earnestness proves unexpectedly powerful.

Full Review… | January 5, 2007
AV Club
Top Critic

The movie benefits from an interesting subject and good acting, I just wish it were more focused and deep.

Full Review… | July 3, 2011

A richly rewarding film experience that rises to the top of its genre.

Full Review… | January 4, 2008
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

While it is, like its genre brethren, inspiring and uplifting, Freedom Writers glosses over so much material that it makes the process look too easy.

Full Review… | August 13, 2007
Calgary Movies

Ironically, the film features almost zero teaching. Despite much pedagogical posturing, it doesn't teach us much, either.

Full Review… | August 4, 2007
Nick's Flick Picks

Worthwhile because of its honesty, because it tells a true story that's worth telling, and because Hilary Swank and company have done it so well.

Full Review… | July 16, 2007
Apollo Guide

Is this film formulaic? Yes. Does it accomplish what it set out to do? Yes. ... It's certainly not a perfect movie but it does offer many pleasures.

Full Review… | July 14, 2007
Murphy's Movie Reviews

Swank's earthiness is key here, and she consistently rises above the story's cliches.

Full Review… | July 10, 2007
DVD Review

The script won't win any stars for originality, it's all put across with enough sincerity to make the corn easy to swallow.

Full Review… | March 30, 2007

Hilary Swank is all heart in this uplifting film about kids from the wrong side of the track who become inspired to learn and do the right thing.

Full Review… | March 16, 2007
Urban Cinefile

yet another feel-good teacher flick that will leave most audiences satisfied

Full Review… | March 7, 2007

An Inspirational Teacher Movie that is moving, thought-provoking and succeeds in being genuinely inspiring.

Full Review… | March 1, 2007

This is moving stuff, thoughtfully handled and well performed.

Full Review… | February 27, 2007
Sunday Mirror [UK]

It may only deserve a C for achievement, but it ranks a B+ for effort.

Full Review… | February 27, 2007
Total Film

You'll be embarrassed, sad, happy then exhausted.

Full Review… | February 27, 2007
Little White Lies

Has its inspiring moments - especially given the true story - and some tense, dramatic scenes amid the speedy montages of confusing gang action.

Full Review… | February 27, 2007

Despite solid work from the engaging cast, there's nothing new here to distinguish Freedom Writers as anything beyond a C+.

Full Review… | February 27, 2007
Empire Magazine

While this film has a terrific story, and strong acting anchored by Swank's superb central performance, it's also a little slick and gimmicky

Full Review… | January 27, 2007
Shadows on the Wall

It's a case of youthful enthusiasm vs. all sorts of cynicism and guess who wins?

January 20, 2007
Greenwich Village Gazette

The film may be inspired by a true story, but it's a mishmash of scenes we've seen before, and for a film about original teaching methods, the storyline is surprisingly derivative and predictable.

Full Review… | January 19, 2007

An inspiring drama about an idealistic teacher who breaks down the walls separating her students from each other and enables them to celebrate their unity in diversity.

Full Review… | January 16, 2007
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Freedom Writers

I think the book is better.

Wildaly M

Super Reviewer


Yes it's corny, yes it's predictable, and yes these characters are as generic as ever, but that doesn't stop Freedom Writers from being extremely powerful, moving and inspirational. Hilary Swank does a great job in the lead here, but the unknown actors and actresses who play the Freedom Writers are the soul of the film; they are incredible. Apart from being predictable and square, this film had me crying and laughing at the same time, had me snickering and get angry at character that I disliked, and more than once made me want to jump and yell with joy. It's a must see film.

Raymond Wieser
Raymond Wieser

Super Reviewer


Moving and compelling drama finds Hilary Swank as a high school English teacher named Erin Gruwell. Ms. Gruwell is teaching teens (who are thought to be "unteachable") in the inner-city, and realizing they have all been affected by crime, gangs, and/or violence in one way or another, she starts a project allowing them to express their thoughts on paper daily.

This, based on both a true story and the compiled diary of Ms. Gruwell and her students from six years before, was a good idea to translate onto the screen. Having not read the book yet, I cannot say whether this was factual by means of its source, or even as tear-jerking as the book was, but I can say that this was beyond simply decent.

The rap music played as the soundtrack of the film could have been better replaced by more dramatic music, and more often, if that, à la Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's original soundtrack for THE SOCIAL NETWORK. Also, the hip-hip tone slightly undermines a few of the themes in the film, like those of anti-racism and anti-hate. Aside from that, this was a viewing of Hilary Swank's best performance yet, and it's one I would not mind giving another watch.

Alexander Diminiano

Super Reviewer

Inspirational... A must see!

Bethany Murphy

Super Reviewer

Freedom Writers Quotes

I saw white men come into my home and take my father for no reason except because they feel like it! And because they can. And they can, because they're white. *sniff* So I hate white people on site.
– Submitted by Jed G (2 years ago)
Paco did it... Paco killed the guy.
– Submitted by Sidney L (2 years ago)

Discussion Forum

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