Source: Catholic News Service
Classroom drama about the efforts of an idealistic, novice high school English teacher (Hilary Swank) to transform a racially divided class of troubled teens into model students by inspiring them to believe in themselves and break the cycle of gang violence in which they feel trapped. As a way of empowering them, she has them record their personal stories, experiences and feelings in journals, which they eventually get published. Director Richard LaGravenese overcomes a predictable and, at times, message-heavy script with emotionally powerful performances by the young ensemble and redemptive themes of self-worth, the efficacy of education and empathy to overcome intolerance, and the ability of one person to make a difference. Some graphic violence, including shootings, beatings and brief but disturbing images of domestic abuse, a divorce subplot, one instance of the f-word, recurring crude language and a few racial slurs, limiting its appropriateness to older adolescents and up. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG-13) 2006
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