Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Holly Hunter and Oscar Isaac. Written by Brin Hill and Daniel Barnz. Directed by Daniel Barnz. Produced by Mark Johnson, Ron Schmidt and Tom Williams.
Centered around Jamie's (Gyllenhaal) dissatisfaction with a failing public school system and the overlooking of her dyslexic daughter, this movie questions the validity of unions and gets back to the fundamentals of teaching. After running out of options, Jamie finds out she can start a new school and with the help of Nona Alberts (Davis), she touches the lives of those around her and jump starts a change in the system.
A feel good movie, the film can feel emotionally manipulative at times when it provides "it's not about us, it's about the kids" as an explanation when in reality, there are several other factors to ponder. Gyllenhaal provides more than enough energy as the passionate single mother who's constantly overstepping her boundaries- we fall in love with her instantly and continue to root for her throughout the film. Davis gives a modest performance in which she portrays a quieter strength, which by the films end manifests itself in an inspiring speech in which she proves her passion for helping young children.
Though the film conveniently leaves out some of the major details, it uplifts regardless, mostly thanks to its charming characters, is a heart-warming story. —Rebecca Hillary