Won't Back Down

Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as one of those magic white people who can overcome seemingly impossible societal problems through sheer force of will in the stale, manipulative Won't Back Down. Convincing all around her with plucky quirks and a flirtatious smile, Gyllenhaal attempts to overhaul her daughter's low-income public school and revolutionize the education system. Joining her is a weary Viola Davis, herself a teacher and mother to a developmentally challenged son. It's standard sweeping cinema, with built-in Tom Petty songs and (spoilers) feel-good ending. Which wouldn't be too off-putting, if the film didn't take a hard anti-union nosedive in its second half. Here apathetic bureaucrats and loving parents are opposed by a teachers' union that engages in actions bordering on super-villainy. It's a distracting, poor attempt to create a narratively useful enemy. Gyllenhaal really, really super loves her kid, though. - Jacob Boon



  • Daniel Barnz


  • Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • Viola Davis
  • Holly Hunter
  • Ving Rhames
  • Oscar Isaac
  • Rosie Perez
  • Lance Reddick
  • Emily Alyn Lind
  • Bill Nunn
  • Marianne Jean-Baptiste


  • Brin Hill
  • Daniel Barnz


  • Mark Johnson

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