Katherine Mangu-Ward on Won't Back Down

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won't back down

In Won't Back Down, a single mother (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and a disillusioned teacher (Viola Davis) band together to fix a failing Pittsburgh school, relying on a fudged and fictionalized version of the "parent trigger" laws that exist in California and three other states. Hollywood logic dictates a happy ending for these reformers, but their real life counterparts aren't usually so lucky. The most accurate analysis of most reformers' chances for success may come from Gyllenhaal's on-screen daughter, writes Managing Editor Katherine Mangu-Ward. After an impassioned speech in which her mom vows that "we're going to get you out of there," the daughter responds with a perfect, furiously indifferent "whatever."