STRONGER – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Stronger is a great little indie film with big actors to tell the bigger story of Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal), a regular working guy who captured the hearts of his city and the country to become the symbol of hope following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Only 27 years old, Jeff was at the marathon finish line cheering on his ex-girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany), when the first blast occurred. He was the guy that the man in the cowboy hat helped up, all bloody and covered in debris, when a photographer took their picture making him the public face of the human toll caused by the attack. That day both his legs had to be amputated above the knees. Jeff was also the guy that when he regained consciousness in the hospital, was able to help the FBI identify one of the bombers which helped lead to their capture.
Unless you live under a rock, you know that part of the story. He was part of the “Boston Strong” history that helped the city and country get past such a horrible event.
What you didn’t know was the private battle he had in front of him as he faced months of rehabilitation for his injuries. Jeff was never the kind of guy that sought out fame, but it was thrust on him during a really rough time. He not only had to heal from the wounds to his body but also emotionally. I mean he was blown up and survived a bomb, it doesn’t get much harder than that. The scenes of the actual event are done tastefully and with respect.
The director, David Gordon Green, who is better known for his comedy projects like Pineapple Express does a great job telling this story. It has it’s funnier moments but is solidly rooted in the deeply personal account of Jeff’s daunting journey that tested his and his family’s strength. The movie shows, in great detail how painful it was to even change his dressings in the hospital. It even used several of the real life doctors and nurses from the hospital in the movie.
The two people closest to Jeff during this time were his mother Patty (Miranda Richardson), who kinda got caught up in all the attention her son was getting and his girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany), who quit her job and moved in with him to help him get through everything he was having to face. The film does an amazing job showing us how everyone in Jeff’s life was changed forever by the bombing.
Stronger is one of those great surprise films that comes around this time of year. It’s well shot, wonderfully acted, and filled with the kind of raw emotion, humanity, and humor that will touch you and make you think twice about how much pain anyone with prosthetic limbs has to go thru to get to their new normal. They may make it look easy as they race in marathons, or dance at their weddings, but this film gives you an understanding of how hard the road actually is that most amputees take to get back up and going. That is why Stronger is worth a trip to the theaters this fall to enjoy this touching film on the big screen.
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Written by: John Pollono
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Clancy Brown, Lenny Clarke
MPAA Rating: R
Selig Rating: A
Runtime: 119 Min.
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.