Gruwell's passion for her students takes a toll on her personal life. After being warned by her father (Scott Glenn) not to accept the job, she takes so much of the responsibility for her students upon herself that it harms her marriage. The outcome of the husband-wife relationship is troubling, but somewhat offset by the gradual transformation within Gruwell's father, who eventually concedes that he was wrong. "You have been blessed with a burden … and I envy you that," he tells her, approvingly. It's one more poignant moment in a movie that, unexpectedly, has several.

The film alternates its viewpoint from that of the white teacher to those of multiple students. Although the transitions are a little jarring, the shifts aren't difficult to follow. The differing viewpoints also give the film some cover from charges that it, like so many films in the late 1980s and early 1990s, tells its tale of hope for minorities through the eyes of a white protagonist.

But hope prevails in Freedom Writers, an uplifting tale about the transforming power of literature and the dedication of those "blessed with the burden" of helping students discover it.


  • Language:  Lord's name taken in vain; multiple profanities; sexual innuendo; racial epithets
  • Violence:  Multiple shootings; vandalism; a student reaches for a concealed weapon; student fisticuffs; descriptions of the Holocaust; a child is struck with a belt; a child accidentally shoots himself; footage of violent racial protests.
  • Sex/Nudity:  A lingering shot of a woman's backside.
  • Drugs/Alcohol:  A husband and wife drink wine.
  • Other:  Scenes of exuberant celebration include dancing; a woman must choose between her husband and her professional calling.