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Speak

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Based on the award winning novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, "Speak" unfolds a story about Melinda (Kristen Stewart), a smart and spirited high school freshman who retreats into self-imposed silence after she is raped one night at a party. Feeling isolated from her classmates and from her preoccupied mother Joyce Sardnino (Elizabeth Perkins), Melinda retreats further in an attempt to escape the torments of high school. It is only through her work in art class with the help of her compassionate art teacher Mr. Freeman (Steve Zahn) that she begins to reach out to others and eventually finds her own voice and inner strength. A feature debut of director/co-writer Jessica Sharzer, "Speak" resonates with stubborn honesty and sardonic humor as we follow Melinda on her journey from traumatized isolation to a brave and final triumphant disclosure.

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Speak is an unexpected gem. Adapted from the popular novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and first broadcast in 2004, the film features an excellent lead performance by Kristen Stewart (Panic Room) as Melinda Sordino, a deeply troubled teen facing her first year of high school and all its attendant perils, including student cliques (here called "clans," such as "the Marthas--very Connecticut, very prep"), hostile teachers (with the exception of Steve Zahn's art instructor), and so forth. Melinda appears to be just another misfit, alienated, shunned, and sullen ("the most depressed person I've ever known," as one classmate puts it), burdened with clueless, hopelessly self-absorbed parents (Elizabeth Perkins, D.D. Sweeney) and her own introverted nature. But there's much more to it than that, and director Jessica Sharzer, who co-wrote the screenplay, deftly balances flashbacks of the traumatic event that turned Melinda into a virtual mute with her pained attempts to deal with its aftermath; the two stories, past and present, unfold together, keeping us involved all the way to the film's unsettling but cathartic conclusion. Powerful, moving, and well-acted (the adult roles occasionally veer toward stereotype, but the kids' performances are consistently good), Speak is a compelling and admirable piece of work. --Sam Graham


Special Features

  • Commentary with Director Jessica Sharzer and Author Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Book Study Guide from Penguin Books
  • Penguin Books Fun Facts and Book Excerpt
  • Filmographies
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Widescreen Enhanced for 16:9 Television

Product Details

  • Actors: Kristen Stewart, Michael Angarano, Robert John Burke, Hallee Hirsh, Eric Lively
  • Directors: Jessica Sharzer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), Spanish (PCM Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Showtime Ent.
  • DVD Release Date: September 27, 2005
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000A7Q2I2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,025 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Speak" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Patrick L. Randall VINE VOICE on February 18, 2006
Format: DVD
"Speak" tells the story of a girl, Melinda Sordino (Kristen Stewart), who made it through the end of the difficult middle school years as one of the popular girls. She does not appear to be conceited or stuck up; she's only just a girl who enjoys the fact that she and her girlfriends are well thought of and the center of the social scene. That all changes for Melinda at a summer party thrown at a friends house where she gets friendly with a popular high school jock only to be shockingly date raped by him. In her shock after the rape, Melinda tries to call the police from the party house, but that just leads to the cops showing up and breaking up the party and getting a lot of Melinda's friends in trouble. Not knowing why Melinda really called the police leads her group of friends, especially her best friend Rachel (Hallee Hirsch) to ostracize her in the way that kids that age lash out at anything that they don't understand and challenges their socially accepted norms. Melinda is also hindered by the fact that her parents, despite clearly loving her, are too caught up in their own issues to recognize that their daughter just underwent a tremendous trauma.

When high school begins that fall, Melinda selectively chooses to remain a mute while enduring the hateful behaviors of her former friends (including Rachel, who is now dating the guy that raped Melinda). Yet, slowly, through finding herself through an art class with and an art teacher (Steve Zahn) that truly inspire her, Melinda manages to recover and find a new sense of self and confidence and even resolution to the events that have plagued her.

"Speak" has all the makings of a typical after school special that is rife with pretentiousness and pat resolutions.
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Only-A-Child VINE VOICE on September 6, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In my review a year ago of "Catch That Kid", I referred to Kristen Stewart as a young Portman/Knightley. Most people thought I was going a bit overboard but with her performance in "Speak" I feel even more confident of my assessment. Although "Speak" was shot within a few months of "Catch That Kid" Stewart looks considerably older, with the Portman/Knightley connection even more obvious. Her understated performance as Melinda Sordino is absolutely riveting. Stewart's performance is critical to this film because she is not just the central character but also the narrator, the entire story is told from her point of view.

Cinematographer Andrij Parekh gets maximum effect from the camera as the film is filled with tight shots of Stewart's face and eyes. Director Jesseca Sharzer gets an incredible non-verbal performance from Stewart which is nicely offset by the voice-over narration. Like the narration in "The Opposite of Sex" and "Girl" this helps relieve the intensity and introduces some wry humor into the story. I particularly liked Stewart's offhand voice-over on her way to the principal's office: "I forgot that the suffragettes were hauled off to jail, duh".

Melinda's flat and distanced narration is often contradicted by the crushing emotional trauma she is experiencing on the screen, this dichotomy is a very effective way to illustrate her inner strength and multi-dimensionality.

Parekh complements his close work with interesting short focal transitions and some good exterior shots. One especially nice one is when Stewart is walking in the distance and the focus slowly changes to highlight a bee and a flower in the foreground.

Like "Welcome to the Dollhouse", the adult roles are a bit extreme but the student roles are very convincing.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By DaveP on November 2, 2005
Format: DVD
A couple of weeks ago I was browsing the IMDB to see what D.B. Sweeney had been up to lately. Looking through his recent spotty filmography, Speak came up. I read the synopsis and it seemed like something I might enjoy, story-wise and cast-wise (big fan of Steve Zahn as well and was fairly impressed with Stewart's role in Panic Room). I decided to give it a shot and was glad I did, as it has given me quite a memorable movie experience.

Melinda Sordino (Stewart) is a high school freshman, who was once a bright, happy student. One night a terrible event occurs that instantly changes that and simultaneously ostracizes her from her peers. School, is now a torment for her as she has no one to relate to or confide in (her parents (Sweeney & Elizabeth Perkins) are caring but unaware of her issue and oblivious to her). She regresses and rarely speaks to anyone, even to the few who try to reach out to her. One person does manage to break through, her new art teacher, Mr. Freeman (Zahn), who gets Melinda to slowly express her emotions through her art projects. She tries to regain the confidence to open back up and ultimately break free of the shell she has created for herself.

This movie is definitely not a feel-good flick, but the screenplay (adapted from the same-titled book) affords some light moments (usually from Melinda's observations through her inner monologue and rare interactions in the classroom). Stewart is truly the revelation here as she perfectly nails the depressed and isolated role of Melinda and can deftly handle the couple of pretty harrowing incidents that occur. She is definitely one to watch for in the future. Zahn, usually cast for comedic parts, pulls off his best performance. The scene towards the end of the movie between Mr. Freeman and Melinda in her "safe place", was enough to bring me to tears, even though there were barely any words spoken. Just perfect.
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