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Duff gives stirring performance in new film

Sarah Vabulas | Monday, October 11, 2004

I’ll admit that prior to seeing the credits roll at the end of this film, I had my doubts. While I am a Hilary Duff fan, I also do believe she has selected both good and bad projects for herself. This movie was a wonderful choice for Duff.The role of Terri Fletcher, a 16-year-old, attractive, innocent girl with a beautiful voice, seems to resonate what many view Duff to be in real life.Set in Flagstaff, Ariz., the film opens on the last day of school with Terri’s brother, Paul, graduating high school. Terri secretly applies to a summer music program in Los Angeles at one of the best music conservatories in the country, despite her father’s edict that she not apply. Terri’s mother, aunt and brother are adamant on getting Terri to this program, no matter what it takes.But before even getting very far into the plot, Terri suffers a personal loss, which keeps her from singing anymore. This movie is truly not a movie for the faint of heart, or really, it’s not for the people who live for touching moments in life.The conservatory accepts Terri into its summer program and she attends, even against her father’s denial – no surprise here because otherwise, there would have been no movie. She tricks him with the help of her mother and aunt, so he doesn’t even know that she’s in Los Angeles.As one can guess, “Raise Your Voice” also becomes a coming of age story for Terri Fletcher, living in the “big city” for the first time in her life. She meets eclectic people, falls in love, all the while struggling to learn music and make up for her lack of formal music training that keeps her behind in her studies.Terri meets a nice, British hottie of sorts named Jay (Oliver James), who is warm and encourages her to sing with joy. The two even write a song together, which they perform at the conclusion of the film.There is also an inspiring music teacher (John Corbett), who wants to find the best in her, and doesn’t have to look very deep.While these parts of the film seem to be cliché, the film really is not the trite, teen-age monstrosity critics have made it out to be.The film is full of humor and sadness. The entire movie the viewer is on an emotional rollercoaster, even at times, finding the need to cry.Maybe the plot has been done a million times before, but it is worth going to see, if not in the theatre, then definitely as a rental. It’s a feel-good movie, which makes one appreciate music and want to go out and sing. If anything, this film exhibits Duff’s vocal talent and promotes her new album, which came out on Sept. 28.Nearly all of my friends hassled me about the fact that I volunteered to review the film and was actually going to sit through all 140 minutes of it happily. One of them even suggested I buy a large popcorn, not to eat, but merely to use as ammo at the screen. However, this was not necessary. I liked “Raise Your Voice” and I think you will, too.