A true unsung hero of his profession, Jake Gyllenhaal hands in a powerful and award-worthy performance as Jeff Bauman, a regular guy who gets caught up in the Boston bombing of 2013. Having lost both his legs, Jeff struggles to find peace as the rest of the world looks to him as a symbol of hope and strength at uncertain and troubling times.
Jake Gyllenhaal worked alongside the real Jeff Bauman to really capture the essence of the pain and struggle he went through, and it’s all there for you to see onscreen. In a career that has delivered countless outstanding performances, Stronger is one of Gyllenhaal’s finest. It certainly warrants awards season recognition; such is the power and emotion that drapes every single frame of this movie.
There’s solid support from Tatiana Maslany, with her and Gyllenhaal sharing a captivating dynamic as Jeff and his on-off girlfriend Erin Hurley. Erin’s story is just as involving as Jeff’s as we get a fascinating insight into what it was like for the person closest to him during these traumatic times. Clancy Brown and a scene-stealing Miranda Richardson (as Jeff’s chain-smoking mother Patty) are also magnetic onscreen.
Stronger is at its strongest when it shines a telling light onto the intricacies of any given situation. The day Jeff returns home from the hospital for the first time is a startlingly-good examination of the human condition. The trauma and the strife marry up against Jeff’s desire to let everyone know that he is ok, even though the severity of the situation was yet to impose itself to him fully. The relationship angle is also very well played, never over-sentimentalising anything but keeping their genuine bond together at its core.
Stronger is a solid film filled with raw emotion. The second half of the movie moves along a lot quicker than the first, and I found that to be a shame. Some of the story deserved a longer build-up and examination. That said, Gyllenhaal’s approach to setting the scene is simply stunning, and he really does deserve every plaudit thrown his way. If you couple this film with Mark Wahlberg’s equally impressive Patriots Day, you also get a very good understanding of this terrible tragedy from the viewpoints of both the police and the victims.
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Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Clancy Brown, Danny McCarthy Director: David Gordon Green Writer: John Pollono (screenplay), Jeff Bauman & Bret Witter (based on the book ‘Stronger’) Released By: Lionsgate Certificate: 15 Duration: 119 mins Release Date: 9th April 2018