Earlier this month, I got the opportunity to join in a preview of a new movie from 20th Century Fox called “Won’t Back Down” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Rosie Perez and Holly Hunter. The movie, based on a true story, shows how a single mom and a burnt out teacher in a failing Pittsburgh elementary school were able to fight huge obstacles, mainly a bureaucratic education system, teachers’ union and frustrated, defeated parents, to give their children (and an entire school) a better education.
One of the earlier scenes in the movie showed Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character with her young daughter sitting in an auditorium anxiously awaiting their names to be called in a lottery for a promising charter school with limited spots remaining. The heartbreak of realizing that you didn’t get picked to go to a good school just makes me cry. It reminded me of a similar scene in the “Waiting for Superman” documentary – I cried during that part too. The fact that kids are in a lottery as if they are winning a trip to Hawaii to get into a good public elementary school just seems so insane to me.
I think my favorite character in the movie was a local union representative played by the incredible actress, Holly Hunter. Her performance really showed how the union’s interests and the parent’s interests were similar, and yet there were more issues than at the surface, and it had really become a war of sorts where students were losing the most.
After the movie, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, and Rosie Perez along with the director of the movie sat down with the audience for a Q&A. It was interesting to me to hear the actors speak about their personal stories – Viola and Rosie both sharing similar stories of teachers expecting little from them. I was also impressed with how involved Rosie Perez is regarding improving schools. Rosie is the artistic board chair for Urban Arts Partnership and spoke passionately about learning who within your state, county, and district has the power to make changes.
I would recommend this movie to anyone who has school children they love. It was an interesting, empowering story that makes you walk out of the theater smiling.
The movie officially opens September 28th.
That’s IT Mom, Jill
* We did not receive monetary compensation for this post. We were invited by THE MOMS and One2One Network to attended a screening of the movie free of charge to facilitate this post. The review is in our own words and is our opinion. Your results and opinions may differ.