Review - Won't Back Down

Won't Back Down (2012), PG, 121 minutes - Won’t Back Down is a drama, or maybe I should say a political drama, about two parents – Jamie Fitzpatrick (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a lower class mother holding down two jobs, and Nona Alberts (Viola Davis), a mother who teaches at a school that has seen better days.  The two are both frustrated with the educational system and how it isn't working for their children.  They begin a petition to ‘flip’ or take over and re-structure John Adams Elementary (the school that Alberts teaches at) in Pittsburgh, PA so that they can provide their children with a better education.  Of course, it isn't as simple as that.  There are all kinds of procedures and timelines that have to be met in order to have one's proposal even heard by the proper committee, and on top of that there are the social hoola hoops that Fitzpatrick and Alberts must jump through that effect not only their personal and professional lives, but the lives of those they care for as well.

Maggie Gyllenhaal gives what I would call one of her standard performances.  She seems to have the strong willed, heart on her sleeve type down pat at this point.  Viola Davis is quite good (maybe not quite as good as she was in The Help last year, but let's face it, that would be tough).  There is one scene between Nona and her son towards the climax of the film that is very strong.  Oscar Isaac isn't too shabby either as fellow teacher and love interest for Jamie.  His character provides an interesting perspective to the situation.  He is caught between his personal feelings for Jamie and his respect for his co-workers and their union.  I was shocked when Rosie Perez came on screen in the teacher's lounge as another teacher.  I don't remember the last time I saw her in a movie!

Due to life being busy, it has been a while since I've updated the blog here.  I figured why not show a little love for a smaller movie that may or may not be getting any attention.  Won't Back Down is an entertaining film that raises quite a few questions that could lead to hours of conversation and debate (that I will not get into here as this is not a political blog).  Maybe you agree with some of the views expressed in this film.  But at the very least it could open up some discussion about education, and that can't be a bad thing right?


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