Criticism "No going quiet": in the long fight

In 2016, Ady Barkan was working as an advocate for economic justice when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a ...


In 2016, Ady Barkan was working as an advocate for economic justice when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a neurological disease that deteriorates motor function. Doctors told him he only had three or four years to live. The documentary “Not Going Quietly” begins shortly after this grim diagnosis, as Barkan embarks on a new political campaign, this time focusing on public health policy.

In the film, Barkan leaves the comforts of his home and family to travel across the United States on a speaking tour as part of his “Be a Hero” campaign. He leads rallies in congressional districts where politicians support what Barkan sees as inhumane health policies. In Washington, his pressure for access to health care led Barkan to protest the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Through this struggle, his disease progresses, limiting his ability to move and speak.

The most intriguing scenes in the documentary center around the mechanics of Barkan’s activism. Director Nicholas Bruckman captures Barkan and a team of organizers as they hold training for protesters who intend to film themselves disrupting politicians during routine campaign stops with questions about care health. This training represents one of the few occasions when Bruckman treats Barkan’s success as the result of organization, rather than a feat achieved by the strength of his personality.

Barkan’s vitality has been at the heart of his achievements. But Bruckman sidesteps the significant amount of planning it took for Barkan and his team to build a national movement. This lack of practicality means this documentary plays out like a human-interest story, constructed from predictable beats of adversity and triumph. It’s a warm and generous portrayal, but the film lacks the propulsive finesse of its central organizer.

Don’t go quietly
Unclassified. Duration: 1 hour 36 minutes. In theaters.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Criticism "No going quiet": in the long fight
Criticism "No going quiet": in the long fight
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