Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down movie review (2022)


More on that later. But first, about those terrible months of rehab, when she first begins to speak and she cannot stop saying “chicken” (the brain has its own logic) and then has a moment of despair and sobs (the impaired brains loses filters). We cannot help but wonder if it is intrusive, even exploitive, to include these very private moments of such severely diminished capacity. 

And then, near the end of the film, we see Giffords watch those same scenes in her home, with her husband, astronaut-turned Senator Mark Kelly. And she laughs. That is why we had to see the footage. All of the remarkable progress we have seen cannot convey her unquenchable spirit as powerfully as her laughter at how far she has come.

I would say that the timing of this film’s release is particularly impactful following a week in which a 4th of July parade in a tranquil suburban community was interrupted by a mass shooting that murdered seven people and injured 46 more. But it was not even the only mass shooting that day. In fact, the US has had more than one mass shooting every day so far in 2022 and no week without at least four. 

Last week was also when ground-breaking legislation was enacted to address some of the factors that are connected to mass shootings. Some of the credit goes to Gifford and Kelly who have devoted their lives since the shooting to gun safety reform through their advocacy group, now just called Giffords

The former Congresswoman always notes that she is not anti-gun. As a candidate in right-leaning Arizona (and as a former registered Republican), she often reassured voters that she was a gun owner and gun user. “I’m not against guns,” she says. “I’m against gun violence.”

Giffords the person and Giffords the organization both recognize the many factors involved and have a wide-ranging set of initiatives addressing suicide, mass shootings, police, shootings, the gun lobby, and more. She is ever-mindful of her own injuries and of the people who died just because they came to talk to her, including a judge, a little girl, and a member of her staff. The film also gently points out that she was shot just a couple of days before she was to start IVF. The gunman took lives and caused injuries to prevent further life.

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