Today's free film on Indie Movies Online is Speak, a teen drama starring Kristen Stewart, who as I understand it also prominently features in that movie series with the vampires and the werewolves and the abs and so forth which is so popular with the younger people these days. Honestly, you kids and your esoteric fancies!
Stewart plays another high school student in Speak, albeit not one about to be inducted into a wacky world of supernatural hunks. Nope, here she plays Melinda Sordino, arriving back in class for the first day back after summer and finding herself shunned by her oldest friends. Deeply scarred by an incident from the summer which she has kept bottled up within, Melinda has become selectively mute, only communicating with a select handful of individuals she feels comfortable with (as well as the audience via interior monologues). Just one such individual is the unorthodox but highly-enthused art teacher Mr. Freeman, who is played by Steven Zahn, and there are also adult roles for Robert John Burke as a xenophobic teacher, and D.B. Sweeney and Elizabeth Perkins as Melinda's parents. There is only so long Melinda can keep herself isolated for though, and she is eventually forced to confront the trauma she experienced the previous summer – both for her own benefit, and to prevent history from repeating itself.
Exhibited at Sundance in 2004, Speak saw its young lead actress receiving significant acclaim for her performance as Melinda. By the time she came to the role, Stewart had already appeared as Jodie Foster's daughter in Panic Room and alongside Jamie Bell and Josh Lucas in David Gordon Green's Undertow (which UK and Australian users on Indie Movies Online can watch for free). Speak is based on a novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and after playing Melinda Sordino, it was onto another book adaptation for Stewart as she appeared in Zathura: A Space Adventure for director Jon Favreau, before subsequently landing the role of Bella Swan in the Twilight series that would turn her into a global star and tabloid fixture.
Sorry folks, but Speak is for UK users only. Why so? Well, to borrow a line from a very early Who record, it's a legal matter, baby. We have got another exploration of teenage angst up our sleeves for our US, Canadian and Australian to check out though, in the shape of One Day Like Rain. While Speak is an issues-based affair, One Day Like Rain is an infinitely more cosmic and philosophical bag of spanners, though another link between the two movies is the appearance of Stewart's Adventureland co-star, Jesse Eisenberg, in a supporting role in the latter.