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Blu-ray Review: Won’t Back Down

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Every person who is concerned about children and education in America should see the movie Won’t Back Down

Based on a true story, the movie portrays the struggle of two mothers who desperately want a good education for their children. Their inner city school is failing. Only 2% of students who attend Adams Elementary School continue on to college. Jamie (portrayed by Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a single mom struggling to help her dyslexic daughter. Nona (Viola Davis) is a once-passionate teacher who has become disillusioned by years of uncaring administrators and frustrated, unmotivated teachers. She struggles with the breakup of her marriage and her own son’s slow educational development.

When Jamie learns of a law that allows parents and teachers to transform schools which are failing, she recruits Nona to help her. Together,  they are committed enough to their children to take on daunting odds, including endless paperwork, other teachers, parents, school administrators, the school board, and even the teachers’ union. It seems an impossible task, but Jamie’s and Nona’s journey is a testament to the power of love and commitment to overcome obstacles.

The film is very fair in presenting the need for unions while pointing out that many people in the education system and even in the union have forgotten that the object of every school should be to do what is best for the children.

While certainly the movie may gloss over the difficulties of how difficult it is to set up a charter school, it is nevertheless a great story with an important message about how important it is to get involved, to stand up for what you believe in, and to never, never back down in the face of obstacles when it comes to doing what is right. In this case, the situation could hardly have gotten worse no matter what  happened. And any cause that brings parents and teachers together in support of children is a good cause.

Won’t Back Down may well move you to tears. It is beautifully acted and deeply inspirational. This is an important movie and should be seen by every person with children in their lives.

The 50 GB dual-layer Blu-ray is presented in widescreen with an aspect of 2.35:1. The picture is very clear and the colors are true. 

The audio is in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and French Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles are also available in English and Spanish. At some points, the sound is a little muffled and not totally clear, especially when the actors are speaking quickly, but that is a minor issue.

The special features include audio commentary from the director. Daniel Barnz, deleted scenes, a short tribute to teachers and a feature on the importance of eduction. Unfortunately, there is no follow-up information on the fate of the new school or on the real characters the story was based upon, because the Blu-ray certainly makes you want to know.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.