“Not Going Quietly” – Make your mark [MOVIE REVIEW]

Ady, Rachel, and Carl Barkan in "Not Going Quietly." Photo courtesy of People's TV.

Ady, Rachel, and Carl Barkan in “Not Going Quietly.” Photo courtesy of People’s TV.

“Not Going Quietly” is the inspirational and true story of Ady Barkan. Trained as a lawyer, he never followed a path of least resistance. Always a defender of social justice causes, Ady found his true calling when he was afflicted by an incurable illness. Young, 32, the father of a newborn, Ady was diagnosed with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Among terminal illnesses, this is at the top of the food chain for cruelty as the afflicted are condemned to watch the body waste away in front of their eyes, brain function intact as the voice goes, respiratory function deteriorates, and motor skills disintegrate. Life expectancy is usually between three to five years after diagnosis, although it can be more or less for no real discernable reason.

Ady, who had long been involved in social protest groups, had only just begun to digest what this disease would mean to his family when his insurance company denied approval for the respirator needed to keep him alive. This was a medical device that had been prescribed for years but his insurance company deemed it “experimental.” Although he had medical insurance and was eventually able to appeal the decision, something he did in person, making it more difficult for the insurance representatives to ignore him and his needs, Ady immediately recognized the threat that the Congressional Republicans were posing in their effort to defund the Affordable Care Act.

Ady, teaming up with another organizer, formed a group called “Be a Hero” to confront politicians about their heartless, self-serving efforts to cut the lifelines of so many people. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake was a particular target and Ady’s confrontation of him on an airplane (after he had been unsuccessful in meeting with him at his office) went viral on social media. Ady and his rag-tag group were energized and decided to travel the country highlighting their fight to retain the healthcare network and make sure that pre-existing clauses were not eliminated from any future plans.

Ady Barkan and Bernie Sanders in “Not Going Quietly.” Photo courtesy of People’s TV.

The rise of Trump and his acolytes was the greatest threat to healthcare as the Be a Hero group acknowledged so they targeted Republican congressmen up for reelection in the mid-term elections of 2018. Crossing the country, engaging the constituents in these congressional districts, they were relentless in their advocacy for healthcare. Their attention to this issue cannot be discounted in the defeat of the congressmen they targeted in the flipping of the House majority in 2018.

Ady, whose condition continued to worsen, as he was aware it would, kept going. His wife stayed home, nurtured their son, and supported their family with her academic job in the English department at University of California Santa Barbara.

“Be a Hero” was making a mark, and Ady soldiered on even as he lost the use of limbs, necessitating a wheel chair, and respiratory and vocal function, finally requiring a permanent respirator and computer-generated speech. This didn’t stop him as he testified before Congress about healthcare, pointing out the hypocrisy of those with gold-standard healthcare for life passing judgment on those who had little to no access to the bare minimum.

Ady is a true inspiration and someone to make us both proud of his accomplishments and ashamed of our inertia when it comes to advocacy. He is definitely a righteous individual and a role-model for all.

“Not Going Quietly” was well directed by Nicholas Bruckman who, for the most part, stays on point with Ady’s fight for healthcare making this a must-see documentary about a truly inspirational figure.

Opening at the Laemmle Royal on August 12, the Town Center 5 on August 13, and at the Laemmle Virtual on August 27.

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