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BASED ON THE NOVEL BY LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON, THIS FOLLOWS A HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN WHO EXPRESSES HERSELF IN ART TO GO BEYOND THE DATE RAPE & THE SILENCE FROM HER PARENTS, CLASSMATES & OTHERS.
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
- Commentary with Director Jessica Sharzer and Author Laurie Halse Anderson
- Book Study Guide from Penguin Books
- Penguin Books Fun Facts and Book Excerpt
- Behind the Scenes
- Widescreen Enhanced for 16:9 Television
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Her debut film Panic Room's charactor is closer to the image with the roll which she is in this film.
She is a bit boyish but shy, not fully grown up girl who had a bad memory- sexually raped by the boy at the summer party before going to the highschool.She tries to call the police from the party, but that just leads to the cops showing up and breaking up the party and getting a lot of Kristen's friends in trouble. She was shy enough to tell the event to her parents not only because she was shy but also because of the gap between her and her parents.
She decides not to talk in school and that makes her alienated her from other students.
She played the roll of a girl who is fragile and even a small touch can shatter her totally.
She was lucky enough to find this rusty room from the school and she makes herself compfortabe there. And also she made friends with the art teacher, and a girl who is now dating with the guy who raped her. She slowly recovers herself and finally gathers herself.
Finally she made a courage to tells the secret story that what happened that night to her mother after the recovery.
The story is not a great one or something imaginative. It's the manner and the way how it flows. The acting and the tone of the film that makes this movie a decent one.
The director does not have a lot of experience making movies but she did a fine job making this one as if she have made hundreds before.
Then again, it has nothing to do with the resume, it's how the director have in mind and how much confident about how she/he will make the movie.
I know that Kristen has a lot of personal issues but in terms of acting, she was truethful. She was never tried to show herself to be great or someone cool. She just acts as if she is herself which makes her acting career keep going.
This movie was her first leading roll and she was not different with her other famous movies like Twilight saga.
Melinda's parents don't really communicate with her. Melinda's behavior hollers trauma - the extended silence and change in eating patterns as well as her poor grades are all red flags. One can cheer Melinda's logical refusal to answer rhetorical questions. It does make one wonder what the point of rhetorical questions are since the one asking them usually doesn't want an answer. It irked me that Melinda's parents would ask such foolish questions which in turn precluded any chance at discourse.
Melinda has also become quasi-mute. Only one girl attempts to befriend her. Heather, a transfer student is the only person who attempts to befriend Melinda. It turns out Heather has an agenda - she wants to be accepted by a clique (called a "clan" in this film) called the Marthas (after Martha Stewart) who are held in high regard by teachers and administrators alike. In the 2004 film, they are described as "very Connecticut, very preppy." The Marthas are known for doing home ec projects for the community and creating party motifs for school functions. Heather feels Melinda's artistic skills will give her a leg up with the Martha crowd.
There are notes of humor that offset the grim and serious subjects covered in this book. The school board didn't want to spend money on changing the school uniform colors when the issue of choosing a new mascot came up. The high school principal is humorously named Principal Principal. Melinda's art teacher, played to perfection by Steve Zahn is the aptly named Mr. Freeman. He encourages his students to free themselves of inhibitions through art. He assigns each student an object to create in some artistic medium. Melinda's assignment is a tree. (Landscaping and trees also crop up in "Twisted" and lanscaping plays a significant role in both of these books). Mr. Freeman is a delightful character and is also a sympathetic ear for his students. He has a brilliant way of lashing out at injustice - he inserts rude caricatures of school board members who have made budget cuts into the school art program.
A kind classmate named David Petrakis also stands up for Melinda. He even stages a brilliant coup d'état in their government class. He brilliantly rebuts the dictatorial tone their government teacher takes when he closes down a debate simply because his students are offering differing viewpoints. David also encourages Melinda to speak up and provides her with the tools to do so.
In time, Melinda discovers her true voice. The writing style of giving readers a glimpse into Melinda's mind and guiding readers with her thoughts make for very effective story telling. Readers can feel Melinda's rage at those who have harmed her. Over time, her character builds in strength and momentum.
I just loved it when Melinda, drawing upon her newly discovered resouces tells Heather that she refuses to let her use her to get in with the Marthas. After Heather drops her as a friend, she has the temerity to come to Melinda when she needs something. Melinda wisely turns down Heather's offer to redecorate her room and help her with a school project the Marthas have taken on. After Heather had rebuffed her once in the book, readers will want to cheer Melinda's refusal to accept crumbs from a fair weather friend.
Readers are not informed as to what trauma caused Melinda's quasi-mutism. The incidents and reasons for that are unfurled as the story rolls along. Simon & Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence" underscores this book.
Laurie Halse Anderson is a genius, plain and simple. This is a very serious and important book that I would highly recommend to families, educators and medical professionals. This is a book that is screaming for attention for book discussion groups. This is a book everyone needs as the serious issues it covers are relevant and timely. This is a book for everyone.
I also highly recommend "Twisted" for the same reasons.