“Won’t Back Down,” ‘Cause the System Deserves It

Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal are thoroughly credible in 2012’s Won’t Back Down, in which two single mothers, one of them a teacher, become unlikely pro-education activists.  They seek to gain school board approval to turn a miserably failing grade school into their own union-free establishment (charter?), thereby bucking appalled union officials.

The film doesn’t stint on showing us how junky public schools have become, and as one who neither fully trusts nor fully respects labor unions, including teachers’ unions, I admire the direction WBD goes in.  Nevertheless, it needs to disclose more of what the local union is doing to hinder the good teachers at Adams Elementary from teaching well.  It’s not as clear as it should be.

The directing and the utterly appropriate cinematography are stronger than the movie’s script, but the film is robust and interesting.  And the always running working-class gal and loving mother Miss Gyllenhaal creates simply cannot be improved on.

Director and co-writer:  Daniel Barnz

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 03: Actresses Maggie Gy...
NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 03: Actresses Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis attend the ‘Won’t Back Down’ screening at NYIT Auditorium on August 3, 2012 in New York City. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

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