Movie Review: Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down * Beautiful Portrait Of Resilience And Optimism; Speaks To A Timely Political Issue
Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down tells the extraordinary story of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, her relentless fight to recover following an assassination attempt in 2011, and her new life as one of the most effective activists in the battle for gun violence prevention and in promoting understanding of the language condition aphasia. Featuring extensive verité filming of Gabby and her husband, astronaut-turned-Senator Mark Kelly; interviews with President Barack Obama and other friends and colleagues; and exclusive access to stunning videos taken in the weeks following her near-death experience, this film is the story of a rising star transformed by an act of violence, and a close-up portrait of the marriage that sustains her.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “A beautiful portrait of resilience and optimism, Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down is an uplifting film about Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and speaks to a timely political issue for audiences of all political affiliations.” See his full review below.
Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
A beautiful portrait of resilience and optimism, Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down is an uplifting film about Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and speaks to a timely political issue for audiences of all political affiliations. Giffords’ passion and perseverance are not only inspiring, but also enrich the film through her interviews; archival footage and sound bites from her husband and mother are also well-placed and add greatly to the film.
Gabby Giffords is shot through the head at point-blank range at a Tucson, Arizona, Safeway in 2011 while hosting a meeting called, “Congress on Your Corner.” That moment, that one bullet, would change her life entirely, as she went from a powerhouse to a nearly vegetative patient. The film shows some admittedly difficult-to-watch clips of Giffords’ recovery in the hospital. She suffered from aphasia, which took away her language ability, and her doctors weren’t sure if she would ever speak again. Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down follows her journey of recovery and also shows glimpses of her career and the path she took post-recovery. We see a strong, intelligent, inspiring, and spirited woman who has achieved, and is continuing to achieve, a great deal.
The film is edited masterfully and tells a rousing and moving story that enraptures viewers from the first frame. One of the most unique parts of Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down is that we see Gabby speaking in all stages of her journey — hearing Giffords’ voice is one of the most compelling aspects of the film, and it adds many endearing, bittersweet, and motivating moments. And what a journey: She gave up her big job to come home and run the family business, then transitioned to a TV commercial star, then to an Arizona Democrat—while staying an enthusiastic and charming cheerleader throughout. I especially love the scenes where Giffords is singing with her mother; not only does it show the strength of their bond, but Giffords is more at ease because, as with many who have aphasia or other brain-related injuries, her speech is most fluid when singing.
Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down is a film about perseverance. Even though watching Gabby go through the relearning process is difficult for viewers, it is also empowering — it shows us that the human spirit, when set on achieving something, will achieve it… and how! Today, she is giving speeches, lobbying for change, and at the forefront of one of America’s hottest discussions: the gun debate. Though there are mentions of the NRA and a decent amount of focus is placed on Giffords—Gabby’s organization against gun violence—this film, much like Giffords herself, is not particularly bent toward one political ideology or party. There are mentions of politics, violence, and a good bit of gory imagery.
I give Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down is available now in theaters.
Keywords: Briarcliff Entertainment, CNN Films Present, Time Studios, A Storyville Films, Lisa Erspamer Entertainment Production, Julie Cohen, Betsy West, Sam Jinishian, Amy Entelis, Courtney Sexton, Ian Orefice, Alexandra Johnes, Tom Ortenberg, Oren Jacoby, Dyanna Taylor, Ilya Chaiken, Miriam Cutler