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Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » Speak » User review

Speak - a story about rape and friendship

  • Nov 4, 2005
Rating:
+3
Pros: outstanding subject matter, performance by Kristen Stewart

Cons: none

The Bottom Line: "It_cant_be_wrong it can only be right
Just show me what you are feeling
You'll be surprised that how easy it is
Just open up its so healing"
Lindsay Lohan, Speak

There isn’t enough money to tempt me to return to my youth and become 16 years old again, even knowing all I know now. All those little circles of friends and non-friends, the competition for recognition, parents that aren’t available, no one to tell your troubles to that could help. No way, no how.

That is what Speak is all about. A popular 16-year old that changes over the summer. Life-long friends shun her, teachers overbear her, parents are absent. It isn’t that she can’t talk, there is simply no one to listen to her.

I know exactly how she felt. How one single event can change your life forever. How everyone else seems to go on while you are stopped dead in your tracks. You want to talk, but even when you open your mouth the words don’t come out. You remain silent. I took up writing, she took up art.

Her art teacher sees inside the barrier she has built around herself, he offers help. But in the end, even he is turning away, quitting his teaching job. Eventually the truth comes out, a dirty little secret she has kept to herself. That is the worse part because you find out her friends knew all along and still they turned their backs on her.

Speak is an independent film that won the Woodstock Film Festival Audience Award for writer/director Jessica Sharzer . Ms. Sharzer adapted the work from a novel by Laurie Halse Anderson . In my own opinion, actress Kristen Stewart should have won an award as well for her outstanding performance as Melinda Sordino, the girl on the outskirts of the crowd.

In an offbeat way, Stewart reminds me of Jena Malone, especially in her role in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys . She is all spunk and wisdom, a woman hidden inside a little girls body. Only 15 years old, she has 11 movies under her belt including Panic Room with Jodie Foster and the new Zathura. She is a fierce warrior in Speak that refuses to give up even when all the odds are against her.

Fellow actors include Elizabeth Perkins and D. B. Sweeney as her parents. Perkins is a harried business woman, always absent. She pats her daughter on the head and tells her that in five years all this will be forgotten, never assuming the real truth. Then she hurries off to whatever crisis she has at work while a larger one is brewing at home. Sweeney appears to be the mouse in the family, in search of employment and under the ruling thumb of his wife.

Steve Zahn does an outstanding portrayal as the art teacher. He comes closest to discovering Melinda’s secret. I liked his offbeat mannerism and he just looked like he would be an art teacher that lived on the edge of the education system.

Melinda’s circle of friends included Michael Angarano as David, her outspoken lab partner and her helper in history. He is one of the few people that actually talk to her on a personal level. There is also Allison Siko as Heather, new to the school, they become friends on the first day but even Heather turns away from Melinda.

Her life-long friend, Rachael, was played by Hallee Hirsh. She was one of those people that you just wanted to slap up side the face. Especially when Melinda finally goes to her and tells her what happened that summer night. Finally, Eric Lively as Andy. The one guy you see around school that girls fall over. The one that all the guys high-five. He is all studly boy but underneath he is just a snake.

The movie states that Melinda enters school as a mute, but I found her quite verbal for the most part. There were times she wanted to speak up but stayed silent, however I wouldn’t consider her mute. Sometimes silence has a lot to say.

Extras on the DVD included: Behind the Scenes, Penguin Books Study Guide, excerpts from the novel, advise from RAINN, theatrical trailer and upcoming releases. There were also the deleted scenes section and language options.

The movie carried a PG-13 rating because of mature subject manner involving a teen rape. It runs for 89 minutes and is worth every minute.

Rape, like suicide, is one of the dirty secrets that doesn’t get discussed. It can change a person in ways you wouldn’t comprehend. It can change the people around them in ways it shouldn’t.

Frankly I would advise that you view this with your teenage child, even a pre-teen under the right circumstances. I would use the Penguin Books study guide at the completion of the film and open a discussion with your child. I would discuss rape and how it can affect your child and even yourself. However, I don’t have a teenage child so maybe I’m talking out of turn. I could see where this would be a great teaching tool in school in a health class. Of course that could raise some eyebrows from parents.

I believe this is why I enjoy independent films so much. They aren’t afraid to enter a controversial subject and shake it like a dog with a bone. They work on small budgets and bring big results. You wouldn’t be disappointed in this film.

Thanks,
Susi


Recommended:
Yes

Viewing Format: DVD
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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About the reviewer
Susi Dawson ()
Ranked #81
Live your life with the goal to 'pay it forward' and do one good thing for someone else
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About this movie

Wiki

Melina Sordino (Kristen Stewart, UNDERTOW) is entering the notoriously difficult time that is the freshman year of high school. She is no average troubled youth, however, for she refuses to utter a word, ever since a party to celebrate the end of 8th grade resulted in a violent encounter for the young girl. Now, ostracized by her schoolmates, alienated from her mother (Elizabeth Perkins, BIG) and father (D.B. Sweeney, THE DARWIN AWARDS), and feeling entirely alone, she retreats into an interior world. But hope presents itself in the form of empathetic art teacher Mr. Freeman (Steve Zahn, SAHARA, DADDY DAY CARE), who accepts Melinda's silence but pushes her towards other means of self-expression. With his aid and understanding, Melinda is able to discover her voice and talent, as well as regain her joy in life. Based on the award-winning novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, this official Sundance selection offers a sensitive portrayal of a hugely important issue, and features a stunning performance by the tale...
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Details

Release Date: 2005
MPAA Rating: Unrated
DVD Release Date: New Video Group, Inc. (September 27, 2005)
Runtime: 1hr 33min
First to Review
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