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RAISE YOUR VOICE

SYNOPSIS:
Terri Fletcher (Hilary Duff) is a 16 year old small town girl and aspiring singer. Terri has her sights set on attending the Bristol-Hillman Conservatory in Los Angeles - the most celebrated summer music program in the country. But her hard headed father (Simon Keith) won't hear of it. Terri's brother Paul (Jason Ritter) is supportive, as is her mother (Dana Davis) and aunt (Rebecca De Mornay), who conspire to get Terri to the music camp. Paul's tragic death in a car accident almost derails the plans, and haunts Terri once she has arrived. A misfit at the camp and guilt ridden about lying to her father - and about Paul's death - Terri struggles to find her way, but is encouraged by the mentoring of Mr. Torvald (John Corbett), and fellow budding muso, Jay, (Oliver James). Together they prepare for a final performance with the other students, which determines the winner of the school's $10,000 academic scholarship.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The clunky title and the basic subject matter seem unpromising, but Raise Your Voice turns out to be a sweet, well intentioned and affecting film, entirely true to its ambitions and relatively fresh with it. Hilary Duff - who reminds me of a slightly younger Renee Zellweger - carries the film's heart, but the entire cast is excellent. Sean McNamara's direction is efficient and sometimes inspired, although he takes a few short cuts that give seuqneces a perfunctory feel. All the same, he doesn't lose his target audience who are riding with Terri on her journey of self discovery.

A fish out water story with elements of coming of age, Raise Your Voice carries its message on its sleeve, but in this case, I don't mind, since the context is music. I am not the target market (pubescent girl I am not) but I really enjoy music and there is lots of it in this film, ranging from the classics to jazz, rock, pop and Spanish. All of it beautifully produced.

Films like Fame and Camp come to mind, but Raise Your Voice is more story driven. (Terri wears a 'Camp' T shirt in one scene, although I can't be sure if it's a subtle reference or a coincidence.) The two main undercurrents of the story are Terri's relationship with her father - which gets a great payoff - and her relationship with her brother. Both are crucial to the emotional arc of the story, but there is also the romance between Terri and Jay to provide us with a cause to cheer. The mother and aunt are a great cheer squad, and the music camp scenes are effective for avoiding clichee.

It's a wholesome film, without being schmalzy, and its sincerity elevates it above the average.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

RAISE YOUR VOICE (PG)
(US)

CAST: Hilary Duff, Oliver James, Rita Wilson, John Corbett, Dana Davis, Rebecca De Mornay

PRODUCER: David Brookwell, A.J. Dix, Sean McNamara, Anthony Rhulen, Sara Risher, William Shively

DIRECTOR: Sean McNamara

SCRIPT: Sam Schreiber (story by Mitch Rotter)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John R. Leonetti

EDITOR: Jeff Canavan

MUSIC: Machine Head

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Joseph T. Garrity

RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 6, 2005

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: April 5, 2005







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