Won't Back Down

2012 "If you can't beat the system... change it"
Won't Back Down

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6.4| 2h1m| PG| en| More Info
Released: 28 September 2012 Released
Producted By: Gran Via Productions
Budget: 0
Revenue: 0
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Jamie Fitzpatrick and Nona Alberts are two women from opposites sides of the social and economic track, but they have one thing in common: a mission to fix their community's broken school and ensure a bright future for their children. The two women refuse to let any obstacles stand in their way as they battle a bureaucracy that's hopelessly mired in traditional thinking, and they seek to re-energize a faculty that has lost its passion for teaching.

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Mike Williams Everyone knows that inner-city schools aren't making the grade. This movie wants to make it appear that teachers who literally do nothing all day is the reason for it. In the movie the charter school teachers are just delightful and the public school teachers are lazy and evil (aside from the cute guy teacher that sings in class). It's silly to the point of being offensive. This movie has an agenda and it's not even hidden. We need a movie about the rash of failing students, families, and communities, not failing schools, just to balance the propaganda spewed here. Many of the problems highlighted in this film are either untrue or exaggerated to a ridiculous extent. This is the typical message that I would expect from a propaganda film: "Blame everyone else for the problems I have". Work hard in school and maybe you won't be stuck in a low-paying job watching your kid struggle in the same way that you did.
Rob Kall This isn't perfect. Like most movies, it makes the villains really bad. But it demonstrates so many things that protesters too often ignore-- the face to face work, the efforts by the opposition to sabotage, using lies, the role of greed of fear and fear-making. The critics of this film cannot deny that there are people out there who exemplify the archetypally evil people in this movie. The venal teacher, the corrupt principal, the union leader who has lost his soul and his sight of what is right. The acting in this movie is extraordinary. One way I measure a movie is by how much it touches my heart and this one gave me chills again and again. it's also great to see a movie where the main characters are all women. This is a movie that is essential viewing. Don't miss it.
Robert W. I suppose I am being a bit of a cynic in saying that this film makes changing the education system look so simple. Yes they struggle don't get me wrong but the film certainly glorifies idealism and makes everything end up in a neat little package with a bow. The school they create is like an idyllic paradise and that is simply unrealistic. However, now let me digress. There is nothing wrong with a film that makes you feel good, spreads hope and cheer and inspires change and this film does all that. It is sweet and uplifting and even fun at times and entertainment value is very high. It tries to channel something like Erin Brockovich while keeping things clean enough for a family film. Despite its G rating the thematic elements make it at least PG in my mind but still a good movie for the whole family. Performances are good without being really outstanding although I thought the lead performance by Gyllenhaal was just a little bit overdone at times like she was really trying for that outstanding Academy Award performance because this is seemingly the type of film that would get it for her. Unfortunately the film didn't do that well and its too bad because despite the few tiny little mis-steps it really is a great film.As previously mentioned, Maggie Gyllenhaal is the co-star playing distraught mother Jamie whose dyslexic daughter is being lost in the system. She is good in her role but she really does milk it. I feel bad saying that because I feel like I'm trashing a feel good movie and I don't mean to be but sometimes she just takes the distraught mother to extremes. Viola Davis is brilliant. She does emotion and desperation brilliantly. She definitely helps bring Gyllenhaal's performance a little more under control as the two of them together are very good. Oscar Issac is decent as Gyllenhaal's love interest and a concerned teacher. He is very underused and his character is left very underdeveloped but he has some very good scenes nonetheless. Emily Alyn Lind as Gyllenhaal's daughter is very good. She really does a great job in each scene she is given. I think she is a very talented young lady (recognizing her from Revenge as well.) The supporting cast is a whose who of character actors including a decent and yet somehow awkward feeling performance by Holly Hunter, Lance Reddick, Vingh Rhames, Bill Nunn and Marianne Jean-Baptiste. A very large and varied and talented cast.Despite a lot of talent in the cast I don't necessarily think it was all used to its very best. I feel like there were several conflicts in the film that they really built up that they leave the audience hanging on. As the movie watcher you really wanted to see that one teacher who was just awful get her just comeupins and yet the entire conflict is left open. She forced the daughter to wet her pants and there was hardly even any confrontation. I felt like that was sloppy writing. At times the direction and script felt rushed and even slapped together. Its unfortunate because the film is so full of heart and hope and inspiration. But it does overcome its shortcomings and will make you smile and feel good and that is what counts. It only bothers me to see wasted potential and I think there was a fair bit of it in this film. Still the perfect movie for family night and you will certainly cheer multiple times for these passionate women. 7/10
Vasiliy Brian Komendant Reading some of the reviews here and elsewhere I was getting a feeling some people simply saw another film under the same title for I don't have another plausible explanation for the shortsightedness and narrow-mindedness of some.The film is stunning in its emotional impact, immaculately written and stupendously directed, with incredible one-shots, meticulously motivated hand-helds, color nuances (overlooked by many) and above all breathtakingly thorough and subtle work with the cast. In the world of "block-and-shoots" and gimmicky self-indulgent "me-me-me's" this rare old school picture stands out and certainly makes many uncomfortable for it appeals to something buried under layers of tweets, pretense, status, rat races and such - the human heart. Human connection. This is the most life-affirming American film I have seen in over a decade without it getting too preachy, cheesy or boring. No chemistry between Maggie and Viola? That comment is beyond me. They are so different, they are so raw and painfully believable on their own, that their union gains power via this deliberate diversity of their characters. There is not a single face in a single frame that is not totally "there", the committed "non-background" nature of supporting cast and extras makes an incredibly detailed background, full of nuance, ever breathing and alive. As is every shot of the film.The last comment I will afford regards the union matter. First if all - if someone really believes this movie is about unions (or against them) - I have nothing to tell them. They will be as deaf to my voice as they are to the writers'/director's which tells a story of mother's love, standing up for your rights, having hope and faith and moving mountains if necessary - if the loved one needs that. The school is just a background for all that to unfold, a setting, a subplot to me. Performances are Oscar-worthy, I could go on for pages and scene by scene describe the beauty and power of them (alas, only 1000 characters here). And one more word on the union issue - what makes this film so impactive and real is how valid both points are and how the film's creators made sure that nothing about that is black and white and took time to support and justify both.So, if you are not ashamed to cry in a theater, if you are ready to embark on an emotional journey, if you are not afraid to think and doubt - go see this brilliant work of art.