Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Oscar Isaac, Holly Hunter, Rosie Perez, Emily Alyn Lind, Dante Brown, Lance Reddick, Ving Rhames, Bill Nunn
Directed by Daniel Barnz
Run Time: 121 mins
Opens September 28th
By Lisa Minzey
Hey Phoenix Film Fans, this week we’re checking out Won’t Back Down starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis and Holly Hunter.
She may not have much in terms of wealth or material goods, but she makes up in the way she loves her child. Philadelphia single mother Jaime Fitzpatrick (Maggie Gyllenhaal) works 2 jobs to provide for her and her daughter Malia (Emily Alyn Lind), and still struggles to make ends meet. Malia has dyslexia and had to transfer schools when her mother could not afford the tuition. Her new school, Adams Elementary is ranked last in the state for the educational quality. Malia’s new teacher is one of the worst teachers in the entire state; always demeaning her, not protecting her from the other students and not willing to work with her on her learning disability. When Jaime learns of her teacher’s behavior, she confronts the school’s administration who can not do anything to the teacher because she is tenured.
When Jaime learns of a lottery being held for one of the best charter schools in the state, they enter Malia in the drawing. Over 400 children entered the lottery with only 3 slots per grade available; chances were exceedingly slim that Malia would be chosen. While at the lottery, she sees a teacher from Adams, Nona Alberts (Viola Davis) and begs her to get the principal to get Malia in her class. Nona was in a difficult position with her child’s school herself, so to appease Jaime, she promises to talk to him.
When the charter school option fell through, Jamie went to see the State Superintendent to complain about Adams Elementary. Although she hit another wall trying to see the Superintendant, Jaime did learn of a way around her problem. In the state ofPennsylvania, there is a law called the Fail Safe Law; when a school is failing, the parents can turn the school around. All Jaime needs is support of the teachers and parents in the community. Desperate for a better future for her child, Jaime reaches out to Nona, begging her to start a school with her. Nona, frustrated with the lack of care for students and restrictions place on teachers by the unions, reluctantly agrees to work alongside Jaime to petition for a school.
The process is easier said than done as there are many loopholes to jump through, paperwork to fill out, reports to write and opposition from the local teachers union and school board. Will Jaime and Nona be able to fulfill their dreams for a better life for their kids or will the people in power keep them from succeeding?
Won’t Back Down is one of those films that pack an inspiring, well-received message; the children of America are the ones that suffer and need the most help. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis deliver tenacious performances that blaze on screen. The essence of the film inspires those to stand up and fight for what they want instead of relying on those in positions of power to take action. Check it out when it opens in theaters Friday September 28, 2012.