Won't Back Down

Scandalously poor results have caused American schools to become a battleground: Parents are understandably alarmed, educators are besieged, unions are angry and students are caught in the middle. Clearly something needs to change, so when a grassroots effort to make a change begins at a Pittsburgh grade school, all of the reactions are exactly as expected.

Two determined women, both of them mothers of special needs children, take the lead; one is a frustrated teacher and the other a single mother working two jobs to make ends meet. As obstructions to their efforts are launched by the powerful teachers' union, they take their battle to the streets, enlisting parents, children and community leaders. Each has a personal price to pay.

 We see:
  • Viola Davis ("The Help") is a gifted teacher who has been worn down by years of frustration. Her marriage, her son and her job are all in jeopardy.
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal ("Hysteria") is the frantic mother of a dyslexic daughter. This character never walks: she either trots or sprints wherever she goes. She is the spark plug who initiates the notion of an independent school, one which focuses on the students, not the teachers.
  • Rosie Perez (Lots of TV) is a teacher who is angry to think she might lose the security of the union.
  • Holly Hunter ("Saving Grace") is a union official who makes an offer too good to refuse.
  • Oscar Isaac ("The Bourne Legacy") is an involved music teacher who inspires his students and just wants to be left out of the controversy.
  • Ned Eisenberg ("Limitless") leads the teachers' union. He says the union WILL support the students...when the students pay union dues!
Not as scorching as the wonderful 2010 documentary "Waiting For Superman" but with a similar message; while the documentary focused on the problem from a macro perspective, this movie focuses on the micro: one single school. The script for this predictable PG-rated film delivers all the clichés, but is satisfying nonetheless. Yes, clichés work!
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Here is a link to a preview:
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