If you don’t know who Ady Barkan is, Not Going Quietly is going to stun you. Even if you do know about him, this documentary will show you the many sides to the man. An activist, father, and literal survivor, this is as compelling a human being as the planet has right now. Watching his passion and desire to press on, in the face of adversity most would crumble from, is truly inspiring. What more can you ask from a film? This doc is moving and easily one of the best of the year so far. Spending time with Barkan will, among other things, make you want to be a better person.
Not Going Quietly avoids being a tearjerker, but the movie does tug at your heartstrings. Watching what Ady goes through, as well as why he’s going through it all, reminds you of what’s important in life. Without ever preaching, this is an issues doc, but the issue is human decency. Who can’t get behind that?
This is the story of activist and attorney Ady Barkan. We meet him as he’s detailing how he met and married his wife Rachael King. At the age of 32, Ady was diagnosed with ALS, given just years to live, and faced with the loss of not just mobility, but his voice as well. Instead of retreating from life, Ady embraces the challenge and begins crusading even harder. The news that a life saving procedure isn’t covered by his insurance is an impetus, but it turns into a quest for overall healthcare reforms. A chance encounter with Senator Jeff Flake puts him on the media’s radar, which he uses to his advantage, becoming a bit of a social media darling.
Faced with a ticking clock and a literal end to the power of his voice, Ady sets out to make sure he’s as loud as he can be. The midterm elections of 2018 represent a stark timeline for him, hoping to flip the House of Representatives to Democratic control. While he’s trying to change the world, he’s also hoping to be a a good father to his son, as long as he can, along with a loving spouse. The toll on his family is there, but the chance to change the world is ever-present.
Ady Barkan is a better man than I am, as well as a pleasure to watch for 90 minutes. His sense of humor, as well as his determination to make a difference, is not just compelling, but downright inspiring. You get why people follow him, but more importantly, you understand why he’s putting himself through it all. The same goes for those around him, who provide some much needed support. Produced by Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, showing amazing taste in documentary material, and directed by Nicholas Bruckman, Not Going Quietly is impeccably made. They obviously know that Ady is a star, so the focus is on him. That being said, his son steals every moment he’s on screen, hamming it up and just being adorable. This actually showcases the stakes for Ady, so it’s not just cute, but a sound choice by Bruckman and company.
Not Going Quietly will inspire you to take action. Whether it’s to fight for expanded healthcare or just to be a better parent or spouse, that’s what Ady Barkan is all about. His story will stay with you long after the credits roll, just like his impact on the world will continue to be felt. He’s a saint and this documentary is one of 2020’s best.