Won’t Back Down Movie Review

Won’t Back Down Movie Review

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis are two thoughtful and tough minded mothers in a fight against educational bureaucracy, in “Won’t Back Down”. Jamie Fitzpatrick (Gyllenhaal) comes off as a kind of Erin Brockovich character up against the system that is failing her young daughter. She doesn’t back down from the system and fights against the tide that will turn her daughter, who struggles with dyslexia, out into the world without the skills to succeed. Viola Davis’ role is that of a disillusioned educator who tires of fighting against teacher and administrator apathy in her inner city school. She chose that school with hopes of making a difference. When her own child struggles with education boredom and underachievement, she reluctantly signs on with Fitzpatrick to turn the tide. It’s an uphill battle against the union, board of education and tenured teachers. I wanted to shout out and applaud many times during the movie. I’m fortunate to live in a community where quality education is valued, but at times, I have to fight hard to voice my concerns. Teachers and school administrators can be very protective of one another, even when they know children are suffering from apathetic educators. I’ve long felt that were education run like a business, rather than a government entity, we might see a more competitive market in education where teachers have to bring their A game in order to succeed.

I feel the movie opens a great thought process about unions and labor protection laws. Those laws were created to protect workers, but it seems that protection has gone too far and now protects poor performance, as well.

Gyllenhaal and Davis give noteworthy performances in this movie. Most of the audience applauded at the end of the movie – due in part to great performances and parental success against the educational machinery. Holly Hunter gives a good performance as a member of the Board of Education who whole heartedly supports unions, as she grew up in an era where unions protected laborers, but when she sees the deviousness of the union to bring about their purposes in keeping the machinery going, she comes out in support of the child and parents. And isn’t that what education should be about.

Won’t Back Down is a movie worth seeing. Not only does it encourage parental involvement and empowerment, but it gets down to the basics of the principles our great country were founded upon – the rights of the individual and not the rights of the bureaucrats.


I was provided with free pre-screening passes to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Emily Buys


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