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Six-year-old Ruby Bridges was one of the first children to integrate a public school in the south; escorted by federal marshals, she walked past chanting crowds for a year to attend a class in which she was the only pupil. The subject matter is inherently moving, and this 1998 made-for-TV film makes effective drama of it (despite the indifferent direction of Euzhan Palcy, who can't seem to come up with an original composition). Most of the plot developments—Ruby's father losing his job, her northern teacher encouraging and comforting her, psychiatrist-writer Robert Coles helping her while also studying her—are drawn from the actual case. As Ruby, Chaz Monet captures the child's happiness and sadness, fear and fortitude, with genuine subtlety. But why does New Orleans, one of the most distinctive cities in the U.S., look like a bland suburb? 90 min.

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