The energetic yet dower journey that is Not Going Quietly presents gives an extensive look into politics, activism, and perseverance. Director/co-writer Nicholas Bruckman’s first feature-length documentary explores activist Ady Barkan, who in 2016, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an incurable neurodegenerative disease. Having ALS nearly stifled his ability to vocalize his opinions on the American political climate, but through his determination and with the help of many people, Barkan became one of the most prolific, notable, and powerful activists still speaking out today.
After his two decades of public speaking, Barkan was given a choice. He could massively downplay the situation as his voice is taken away from him, or he could use this as an opportunity to highlight the serious problems he, and many more, have found within the U.S. healthcare system. Barkan chose the latter. In doing so, Barkan, along with many of his close friends and caregivers, went on a 40-day long road trip across 22 states to voice opinions on current issues to any politician willing to indulge them. And as more people started to take notice, Barkan’s lack of a traditional voice became much less of an issue when it came to his ideas being heard.
“…went on a 40-day long road trip across 22 states to voice opinions on current issues to any politician willing to indulge them.”
One of the most significant steps to Barkan obtaining his platform was through the people around him. Elizabeth Jaff, in particular, opened his eyes to how to focus on the small stories, the narratives that rarely get an abundance of press or attention. Through such acquaintances, he gained insights into women’s issues and sexual misconduct. Armed with this knowledge, Barkan was able to drastically expand the number of topics he and his campaign members could shed light on.
Giosuè Greco’s musical compositions and Kent Basset’s editing throughout Not Going Quietly are top-notch. The amount of b-roll, which is mainly used in the introduction of Ady Barkan, never became overused or gimmicky. Instead, the footage of Barkan’s pre-ALS career assists in introducing the film’s main subject while also sharply contrasting his post-ALS activism. Coupled with Basset’s editing, the score, headed by Giosuè Greco, intensifies the tone of any given scene it’s paired with, creating some truly memorable sequences.
In Barkan’s own words, he saw the post-2016 election America as “totally f****d.” Because of this, he set out on an expedition that changed America’s entire political landscape, proving that anyone can be a hero and make a difference. Ady Barkan’s story encapsulates what it means to be strong-willed. Not Going Quietly goes deep inside what true perseverance means and how to come out on top of a problem that seemed almost impossible to beat. Bruckman wisely shows the lasting effects on the topics and issues brought to life on the documentary’s subjects. In the end, the inspiration that is Ady Barkan is beautifully put to film.
"…the inspiration that is Ady Barkan is beautifully put to film."