I’m a girl with discerning tastes. Some…well, many would say I’m picky and don’t really like much of anything. I don’t believe that’s true, it’s just the older I get the harder it is to please me. But I think that’s the way it should be. With every passing year we see more and more and I for one don’t want to keep seeing the same thing over and over again.
I feel as though people—me included, should be constantly trying to step their game up.
I rented a few movies this weekend but the one that stood out was “Won’t Back Down”. It had a stellar cast of great actors: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Holly Hunter, Rosie Perez, Ving Rhames and Marianne Jean-Baptiste.
In a nutshell: Single mom Jaime Fitzpatrick (Gyllenhaal) with limited resources has a daughter who needs a little extra help at school. The school she is zoned for is the worst of the worst and she feels stuck. She can’t afford private school or tutors, and the teachers are either zombies or bound by bureaucratic red-tape and can’t help. She begs for help from Nora Alberts (Davis) a teacher who is struggling to survive in the poorly run, unionized school while trying to piece her life together. They have to overcome the typical bullying from the powers-that-be and struggle to do what’s right for the greater good.
The charter school lottery scene really resonated with me. The look on their faces–Jaime and her daughter Malia (Emily Lind—she plays the young Amanda in the television show ‘Revenge’) is a defining moment in the film. They are distraught, scared and nervous. it’s as though you see them both realize for the first time that this system was not created equally and that they were doomed to fail.
One of my favorite lines in the movie: “So, you want to start a school with me?” That line sounds crazy and it kinda is, but Gyllenhaal pulls it off in a naïve but I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired kinda way.
Bottom line is I loved it. For so many reasons but here are my top 3:
1) The cinematography was great. I like the lighting and camera movement the director used…
2) Maggie Gyllenhaal always plays a great blue-collar, kinda lose, round-the-way girl.
3) The message: It may not work for everyone and in every situation but the moral of the story is: if we work together and demand better for our children we can get it. It really is that simple; expect more from everyone, the kids, the teachers and the parents.
The situations in the movie are supported by real events but I’m not sure how much is support one story in particular. I will say if you mix “Waiting For Superman” and “The Lottery” and add award winning actors, what you get is “Won’t Back Down”.
After watching I did an internet search and this movie got some horrible reviews. I was so disappointed that people weren’t moved the way I was.
I read a few of the reviews to try and understand why they rated it so poorly. I honestly felt like the “other side” paid people to demonize a movie that sheds light on our poor public school system. One recent review called the movie “the worst major film in U.S. history”. Really, you haven’t seen “Scary Movie 3” or any of them for that matter?
Another reviewer got key things wrong which told me they didn’t actually watch the film. I point all this out to say, give this movie a chance and take most reviews (not mine)with a grain of salt.
Mind you this is a movie, so it’s sappy and it make some not-so-real-life moves and ties things up nicely at the end but again–it’s a movie not a documentary. I did not love how she left her daughter with the hot teacher dude to babysit. She knew him, sort of and he was a good guy but…not a protective mom move by a long shot. The writers also seemed to really love the word ‘trepidation’, I counted 4 times it was used but, I think it was repeated mostly by Jaime, mostly to enforce that she may be just a blue collar bartender but she still has a great vocabulary.
Nevertheless, the end, the last 5 seconds of the movie…sealed it for me.
Pour yourself a glass of red wine, hit up your closest red box and let me know your thoughts.