Melinda 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 talented Stewart.
This movie was recommended to me by Netflix, and yes, I'd already seen Kristen Stewart in Twilight, and though it wasn't award-winning material, I thought what the hell, why not check this suggested movie out. The premise caught my attention, though it sounded like heavy subject matter, but still like something I'd want to see. I'm so glad I did.
While the root of Melinda's fears centers around a violent attack, it's not shoved down your throat every second of the movie. A lot of the film dealt with the everyday pressures of school young people face from their teachers, their parents, and mostly from their peers. And Melinda is trying to deal with the struggles of school and the way her parents really don't see her.
Part of the problem is that her classmates are still upset with her for calling the cops at a party, not knowing that she was raped while everyone was having a good time. And she's afraid to tell anyone. At this point, the start of a new school year, the only friend she has is a girl new to the school who later ends up blowing her off, so there's no one for her to turn to. It seems like she would just get lost in the system if not for one unique art teacher who pushes his students to challenge themselves instead of always following the crowd. You get the sense he's aware something has happened in Melinda's life, but he doesn't push it, instead wanting her to focus on her art, on something beautiful and creative.
Despite the subject matter of this book, it's told in a very matter-of-fact way, not overly dark and depressing. Melinda is a strong individual despite what's happened to her, and she keeps getting up everytime she falls. There are times, though, that the pain and memories of what she suffers are too strong to keep inside (and occasionally we hear the screams she ends up making famous in New Moon). She loses herself in her art, and eventually finds the strength to stand up for herself, which leads her to finally being able to tell someone about what happened to her.
I know some people may think of this is just an after-school special, but the awareness of rape is something that should never be forgotten. Just a personal observation, but it's pretty obvious to me that kids are having sex at a younger and younger age. It's becoming or probably already has become the norm for a 14-year-old girl to be sexually active. Which means it's that much easier to be forced to do something you're not ready for yet feeling helpless to stop it. So films and books like this are important, and very relevant to today's young kids.
It was a good movie, a touching one, and one I'd definitely recommend to others. You can see hints of the pretty young woman Kristen Stewart is becoming, and a big plus is that she's much more articulate in this film LOL. It was time well-spent, and I hope to read the book that it was based on. I hope all of you will share this with your daughters, regardless of their age.
Rating: **** out of *****