Speak (film)

2004 film directed by Jessica Sharzer

Speak is a 2004 film about a young girl who, after being raped, enters high school a selective mute. Struggling with school, friends, and family, she tells the dark tale of her experiences, and why she has chosen not to speak.

Directed by Jessica Sharzer. Written by Jessica Sharzer and Annie Young Frisbie, based on the novel by Laurie Halse Anderson.
The Truth Will Change Everything.

Melinda Sordino

  • [voiceover] It's my first day of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomach ache.
  • [voiceover] My English teacher has no face. I call her Hairwoman.
  • [voiceover] Ivy's being nice. Say something. My throat is dry. It hurts.
  • [voiceover] I hate winter. I've lived in the midwest my whole life and I hate winter. It starts too early and it ends too late. Why doesn't everyone just move to Florida?
  • [voiceover] It's time for a mental health day. So conjugate this: I cut class. You cut class. He/she/it cuts class.
  • [voiceover] I should probably tell someone. Just... anyone. Get it over with. Blurt it out.
  • [voiceover] It's hard to sleep at home. How long would it take for the nurses to figure out I don't belong here? Would they let me rest for a few days?
  • [voiceover] It happened. There's no avoiding it. No forgetting.
  • [voiceover] Here's what I learned in bio. If the seed is planted too deep it doesn't warm up in time. Once the plant surfaces it sprouts leaves so it can absorb more sun. If someone picks the flower the plant grows another bloom to produce more seeds.
  • [voiceover] Gym should be illegal. It's humiliating.
  • [voiceover] There is no point talking to my ex-friends. Our clan, the Plain Janes, has been absorbed by rival groups. Nicole hangs out with the jocks. Rachel went all Euro. Ivy straddles two crowds: the goths and the Marthas. And then there's me. I'm clanless.
  • [voiceover] It's impossible to listen to Ms. Kane. Her voice sounds like an engine that won't turn over. Plus she laughs at her own jokes.
  • [voiceover] Heather has found a clan. The Marthas. Very Connecticut. Very prep. I suspect money changed hands.
  • [voiceover] Dave Petrakis invited me over to do lab homework. I said no. No thanks. I just... I can't.
  • [voiceover] Today is career day. Am I A: a helper B: a doer C: a planner or D: a dreamer?
  • I think you should know what you stand for, not just what you're against. You should be able to show how things can be better.

Mr. Freeman

  • Hi everybody! Welcome to Art. The only class that will teach you how to survive. This is where you can find your soul, if you dare. Don't ask me to show you how to draw a face. Ask me to help you find the wind.
  • You need to visit the mind of the great one. Picasso, who saw the truth. Who painted the truth. Who ripped it from the earth with two angry hands.
  • [describing a painting] It's night in Venice. This is the color of an accountant's soul - a love rejected. This, I once grew mold on an orange this color when I was living in Boston. And these are various members of the school board. You see, if something's eating at you, you gotta find a way to use it.


  • Mr. Neck: There is no kissing in the hallway!


Melinda: [voiceover] The school board decided that Trojans didn't send a strong message of abstinence. So we'll now be the home of the Merryweather Hornets.
Cheerleader: What are we supposed to cheer? We are the hornets, the horny horny hornets?

Mr. Freeman: Can anybody tell me what this is? [holds up a smashed globe]
Ivy: A globe?
Mr. Freeman: A Globe? Gosh... What're you guys? 13? 14? You already let them beat the creativity outta you?... It's ok. I used to let my daughters kick this around my studio when it was too wet to play outside. And one day Jenny put her foot right through Texas and the entire United States crumbled into the sea. I mean, you could, you could paint a wet muzzled dog... chewing Alaska! The possibilities are endless. It's almost too much but you all are important enough to give it too.

Mr. Freeman: In here is a piece of paper and on that piece of paper is a word. You are gonna spend the rest of the year turning that object into art.
Ivy: Uh, Mr Freeman? When I was little I was really scared of clowns and I don't wanna relapse and have to go back into therapy.
Mr. Freeman: Oh yeah, well, fear is a great place to begin art.
[Melinda picks a piece of paper that says "tree" and tries to put it back] Hey! Whoa. You just chose your destiny. You can't change that.
Melinda: I learned how to draw a tree in like the 2nd grade.
Mr. Freeman: Oh really? Um. Well, do you wanna show me? It's OK. I won't grade you.
[he hands her the chalk and she sulks up to the blackboard and very hesitantly draws a really pathetic tree]
Mr. Freeman: That's a pretty good start. Yeah, let's see what it looks like at the end of the year.

Hairwoman: Every word Hawthorne wrote, every comma, every paragraph break, these were done on purpose. It is our job to try and figure out what he's really trying to say.
Melinda: [voiceover] Why couldn't he just say what he meant? Would they pin a scarlet letter on his chest? "S" for straightforward?
Hairwoman: The house with the chunks of glass in its walls, is a symbol of what? Well, it would reflect, sparkle? Come on people, the house symbolizes...?
Rachel: How do you know that's what he meant to say? I mean, you could just make all that up, it's just a story.
Hairwoman: This is Hawthorne, one of America's greatest novelists. And not that it makes any difference but I wrote my dissertation on Hawthorne.
Rachel: Fine, but, I thought we were all supposed to have opinions here. I mean it's a good story especially when Hester and that guy fall in love. But I don't really believe in symbolism. I mean you can just make all that up.
Hairwoman: [about to cry] Alright class, I want you all to write a 500 word essay on symbolism. And then... turn it in!
Melinda: [voiceover] Poor hairwoman. I hope they send her to a conference or something. I'm ready to help pay for a sub.

Melinda: [voiceover] All that crap you hear on TV about communication and expressing feelings is a lie. No one really cares what you have to say.
Heather: So here's the plan. We join 5 clubs. One for every day of the week. Not like Latin club, but cool stuff. What do you wanna join? Hey, maybe we can tutor kids at the elementary school. What about your friends from last year? Don't you know Nicole?
Melinda: [voiceover] I wonder how long it would take for anyone to notice if I just stopped talking.

Melinda: [voiceover] We're studying American history for the ninth time in nine years. Every year they say we're gonna get right up to the present but we always get stuck in the industrial revolution.
Mr. Neck: My family has been in this country for over 200 years. We built this place. We fought in every war, from the first one to the last one, paid our taxes and voted. So tell me why my son can't get a job?
[a number of students raise their hand but he ignores them]
Mr. Neck: Reverse discrimination. He wanted to be a firefighter. Went up for the job but he didn't get it. What I'm suggesting here is maybe if we had closed our borders in 1900 then real americans would get the jobs they deserved.
[the Native American student raises his hand but the teacher points to Heather]
Mr. Neck: Young lady.
Heather: Um, I think that we're all foreigners and should just give the country back to the Native Americans.
Mr. Neck: [scoffs] Now we have a debate, don't we? "Native Americans"?
Black student: Maybe your son didn't get the job because he wasn't good enough. Or maybe he's lazy. Or maybe the other guy was just better than him.
Mr. Neck: Watch your mouth, mister. That's my son you're talking about. You know what? That's enough debate. Everybody take out your book.
[David stands up to speak]
Mr. Neck: Mr. Petrakis, please take your seat.
David: If the class is debating, then each student has the right to say what's on his mind.
Mr. Neck: I decide who talks in here, Mr. Petrakis.
David: You opened a debate, you can't close it just because it's not going your way.
Mr. Neck: Watch me! Take your seat, Mr. Petrakis!
David: The constitution does not recognize different levels of citizenship based upon the time spent in the country. As a citizen and a student, I'm protesting the tone of this lesson as racist, intolerant, and xenophobic.
Mr. Neck: Sit your butt in that chair, Mr Petrakis, and watch your mouth! I try to get this debate going and you people turn it into a "race" thing. Sit down, Mr. Petrakis, or you're gonna go down to the principal's office.
[David walks out of the room]
Melinda: [voiceover] Dave Petrakis is my new hero.

Heather: This is really awkward. No matter what... no, I don't wanna say that. I mean, we kinda paired up at the beginning of school when I was new and didn't know anyone and that was really really sweet of you. But I think it's time that we both admit to each other that we're just very different people. I mean, I have my modeling and I like to shop...
Melinda: I like to shop.
Heather: You don't like anything. You're the most depressed person I've ever met. And excuse me for saying this but I think you need professional help.
Melinda: So you're blowing me off because I'm a little depressed?
Heather: Once you get through this "life sucks" phase, I'm sure lots of people will wanna be your friend. But for right now, I don't think we should have lunch together.

Melinda: Excuse me, sir? Um, I was wondering if... uh, I was j...
Mr. Neck: Come on, Sordino. Spit it out. You have to learn to enunciate. Or else no one will listen.
Melinda: I was wondering if there was any way I can raise my grade?
Mr. Neck: Parents got the report card, huh?
Melinda: No, I just wanted to.
Mr. Neck: Why should I give you that chance?
Melinda: Everyone deserves a second chance. I mean, isn't that what Jesus said?
Mr. Neck: Are you being smart with me?
[she shakes her head]
Mr. Neck: OK. I'm feeling generous. Just because I don't wanna have to see your face in summer school. Write me a report on a cultural influence at the turn of the century. And it better be good.
Melinda Sordino: It will be. [voiceover] I'll write about the suffragettes. Before they came along, women were treated like dogs.

Hairwoman: A revolutionary is only as good as his analysis. What does that mean?
[Melinda raises her hand]
Hairwoman: Melinda, better late than never. Why is a revolutionary only as good as his or her analysis?
Melinda: I think you should know what you stand for, not just what you're against. You should be able to show how things can be better.
Hairwoman: That's pretty darn good.

[Melinda just fainted while dissecting a frog]
David: Melinda! Hello? Can you count backwards from 10? Who is the president of the United States? Come on, open your eyes.
Ms. Keen: Dave, don't hit her!
David: That's what you're supposed to do! My dad's a doctor. [still slapping her] Melinda, who's the governor of Texas?

David: The suffragettes fought for their right to speak. They were attacked, arrested and thrown in jail for daring to do what they wanted to do. Like them, Melinda is willing to stand up for what she believes. That no one should be forced to give speeches.
Mr. Neck: What is this?
David: Melinda has to deliver her report to the class as part of the assignment. She made copies everyone can read.
Mr. Neck: Oh, no you don't. When I say oral I mean oral. [to David] Now you sit down! [to Melinda] And you, read that report. Open your mouth Sordino. Open your damn mouth!
[Melinda remains silent]
Mr. Neck: I am so sick of your attitude.
[he drags her by the arm to the principal's office]
Melinda: [voice over] I forgot: the suffragettes were hauled off to jail. Duh!

Melinda: Why should I worry about Rachel?
Melinda (alter ego): He'll hurt her. You were best friends for nine years. That counts for something.
Melinda: She's a traitor and a witch.
Melinda (alter ego): She doesn't know what happened.
Melinda: She'll hate me.
Melinda (alter ego): She already hates you.
Melinda: I hope he breaks her heart.

Loudspeaker: Attention, Merryweather students. The final tally is in. Bees 35. Icebergs 17. Hilltoppers 6. Wombats 84. We will now be the home of the Merryweather Wombats.
Heather: What rhymes with wombats?
Loudspeaker: For those of you who didn't vote. Maybe you've learned a valuable lesson today about democracy.

Principal: Well?
Joyce Sordino: Oh for the love of god, open your mouth Melinda.
Jack Sordino: This is childish honey.
Joyce Sordino: I don't know why she's doing this to us.
Guidance Counselor: We're not ganging up on you. We're here to help.
Principal: Let's start with grades. This isn't what we expected of you Melissa.
Jack Sordino: Melinda!
Principal: Last year you were a straight B student. No behavioral problems, few absences. What do you have to say?
Melinda Sordino: ...
Joyce Sordino: She's mute. She's mute! She not saying anything.
Guidance Counselor: I think that we need to explore the family dynamics at play.
Jack Sordino: All I know is that last year I had a sweet loving little girl and now she's flushing her grades down the toilet? What have you folks done to her? Huh? I play golf with the school board president. Did you know that?
Joyce Sordino: Nobody cares who you know, Jack.
Jack Sordino: Did you know that?
Joyce Sordino: Nobody cares.
Guidance Counselor: Can I just remind everyone that we need to one: reassure, two: stay open and three: don't judge.
Joyce Sordino: How old are you?

David: Listen, the suffragettes were all about speaking up. You can't speak up for your rights and be silent. I thought what you did was cool but you can't make a difference unless you speak up.
Melinda: Do you lecture all your friends like this?
David: Only the ones I like.

[Melinda tries to tell Rachel what happened at the party, but she writes out "I, WAS, RAPED."]
Rachel: [drags Melinda outside] Oh My God what--Why didn't you tell me?
Melinda: Well it's--When the police came everyone started freaking out. I got scared. I walked home. After that night I, I, I couldn't tell anyone.
Rachel: Oh. Did you get pregnant? Did you get aids? Are you okay?
Melinda: Yeah. I mean no, I didn't get pregnant. I'm fine.
Rachel: [curious] Was it someone from the school? Who was it? Melinda tell me.
Melinda: It was Andy Evans.
Rachel: What?! I can't believe you you're--Liar! You're jealous. I'm popular, and I'm going to prom, and you tell me this? That's twisted, Melinda seriously you're sick. You need help.
[she goes back inside the school as Melinda watches]

Heather: I hate being a Martha. You were so right not to join. I mean all I am is their little slave. Ok, it was supposed to be me and Meg and Siobhan decorating the Holiday Inn for prom and now Meg & Siobhan can't do it and I'm totally screwed! Mel, you have to help me! They have some sales meeting in there until like three but then they'll let us start and I know we can do it!
[Melinda gives a blank stare]
Heather: You are so great! I owe you big time! What if I help you redecorate your room? I know, a nice seafoam green!
Melinda: [hesitates] No...
Heather: Ok, or... something rich like, like eggplant!
Melinda: No, I mean, I won't help you.
Heather: But you have to.
Melinda: No, I don't.
Heather: But why?
Melinda: [now angry] Because I was nice to you... in the beginning of school... when I didn't even like you. And you blew me off! Because you're a self centered social climber! And you know what? I know what I wanna do to my room and it doesn't involve "eggplant". I think you should go!

Ivy: [about Melinda's art project] It's scary, like in a weird way, not "clown" scary, um how do I say this? It's like you don't wanna look at it too long.
Mr. Freeman: I see a girl caught in the remains of a holiday gone bad. Her flesh picked off day after day. The palm tree might be like a broken dream, I don't know. Definitely has meaning. Lotta pain.

[Jack walks in the kitchen and sees the Thanksgiving turkey in a pot on the stove]
Jack Sordino: You're boiling it?
Joyce Sordino: Too big to fit in the microwave!

Joyce Sordino: Dad changed his flight. He's gonna be home in a few hours.
Melinda: [shocked] Why? I mean, I'm fine. Really.
Joyce Sordino: You don't have to talk about it, you know, if you don't want to.
Melinda: No, I wanna tell you about it. [pauses] Last year, I went to this party at the end of the year...


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