As timely and noble as the issue of educational reform is, Won’t Back Down is far too simplistic—and needlessly political with its approach. Your enjoyment of the film hinges largely on how you feel about labor unions. If you think they're the sole reason that bad teachers still have jobs and kids aren’t learning as much as they should be, you're in luck. If only they would have focused solely on fighting for what's best for the students.

That misstep aside, the film still has its merits. Not only are Gyllenhaal and Davis’s performances nothing short of outstanding (one scene in particular, where Nona apologizes to her son, is definitely Oscar-worthy), Won’t Back Down will provide plenty of opportunities for lively post-movie discussion, a welcome change from what’s currently gracing a theater near you.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking, plus Jamie works as a part-time bartender, so there are a couple of scenes at the local watering hole. Nona blames herself for a car accident that happened with her young son in the car after consuming a couple glasses of wine, so she no longer drinks.
  • Language/Profanity: An exclamation of God’s name, plus an instance of basta--, da--, as-, he--, sh-- and pu--y.
  • Sex/Nudity: None, just a few kisses exchanged between Jamie and Michael. Jamie also has a tendency to wear shirts that accentuate her cleavage, her bare midriff or both.
  • Thematic Material: Nona and her husband are newly separated, and we see how the frayed family dynamic affects their young son. There are several discussions involving the trials of living in a low-income area, including increased gang activity, drugs, a higher drop-out rate, etc. There’s also some bullying of students who are considered "slow."

Publication date: September 28, 2012