Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Clancy Brown, Frankie Shaw, Maggie Castle
Runtime: 1 hr 56 mins
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scene and Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/StrongerTheFilm/
Opening Day: 21 September 2017
Synopsis: STRONGER is the inspiring true story of Jeff Bauman, an ordinary man who captured the hearts of his city and the world to become the symbol of hope following the infamous 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Jeff, a 27-year-old, working-class Boston man who was at the marathon to try and win back his ex-girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany). Waiting for her at the finish line when the blast occurs, he loses both his legs in the attack. After regaining consciousness in the hospital, Jeff is able to help law enforcement identify one of the bombers, but his own battle has just begun. He tackles months of physical and emotional rehabilitation with the unwavering support of Erin and his family. It is Jeff’s deeply personal account of the heroic journey that tests a family’s bond, defines a community’s pride and inspires his inner courage to overcome devastating adversity. Filled with raw emotion, humanity and humor, Stronger is the inspirational real-life story of the man who became the living embodiment of “Boston Strong.”
Will this movie about a Boston Marathon bombing survivor be Jake Gyllenhaal’s ticket to an Academy Award?
We sure hope so, because the 36 year old actor is one talented and hardworking actor. He played a US Marshall psychologically scarred by the horrors of war in Jarhead (2005), a code breaking political cartoonist in Zodiac (2007), a hunky fugitive with a bod to die for in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), an anti terrorist law enforcer who travels through time in Source Code (2011) and a twisted crime paparazzo in Nightcrawler (2014).
For his performance in 2005’s BrokebackMountain, Gyllenhaal was nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category at the 78th Academy Awards for playing a gay cowboy trapped in a doomed romance (George Clooney took home the prize for Syriana). He has also been nominated for a few British Academy Film Awards (he won the Best Supporting Actor for BrokebackMountain), Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
If Leonardo DiCaprio can bring home a Best Actor prize for his tortured performance in The Revenant (2015), we hope major awards will recognise Gyllenhaal’s honest and powerful portrayal of a man who survives one ordeal after another.
In this biographical drama film directed by David Gordon Green and written by John Pollono, Gyllenhaal gives it his all by playing a disabled character determined to pick his life up. This kind of real life stories can easily earn the love of juries.
Based on the memoir of the same name by Jeff Bauman and Bret Witter, the movie tells the story of Bauman, a victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. After losing his legs, he overcomes a series of physical and mental challenges to walk again. The inspiring tale of how a man adjusts to his new circumstances is so intimately told, it may leave sentimental viewers tearing
It wasn’t too long ago when we saw Peter Berg’s Patriots Day. While the 2016 movie focused on the unfortunate bombing incident and its subsequent terrorist manhunt, this human drama looks at how a man struggles and eventually lives becomes a symbol of strength for his home city of Boston.
Gyllenhaal delivers an engagingly touching performance, and you feel like you are right beside Bauman as he triumphs through life. There is a nice balance of sentimentality without making the movie a tear jerking melodrama. There is grittiness to the 119-minute movie, and it never resorts to convenient sappiness to manipulate your senses. The characters swear a lot, reflecting the lives of the blue collar workers in Boston. These are personalities who aren’t exactly likeable, but their flaws feel real and authentic. Anyone can tell you that that Bauman made a few bad decisions after losing his legs, but it feels real to see how he pulls himself together after life gets messy. The tale of survival and recovery is much needed in these complicated times.
Gyllenhaal’s co-stars also deliver moving performances. Tatiana Maslany (Woman in Gold) is empathetic as Bauman’s girlfriend, while Miranda Richardson (Muppets Most Wanted) and Clancy Brown (Warcraft: The Beginning) add a humane touch as his rough talking parents.
In its entirety, the movie is an honest tale of inspiration that does not resort to clichés. You can feel the filmmakers and cast members’ passion to tell a solid and straightforward story of how we should embrace the imperfections of life to make ourselves stronger.
(Besides fantastic performances and a true-to-life story, this movie explores what it takes to be a hero in today’s complicated times)
Review by John Li