Stronger: Film Review

Becoming a hero is both rewarding and challenging thing to be called by. Dealing with the aftermath of what happened during a tragic is the toughest thing anybody can stress over. Though Stronger might not be a strong contender for one of the year’s best movies, it’s title implies otherwise.

Based on the true story that comes from his memoir, Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) loses both of his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing while waiting at the finish line cheering on for somebody. Following that tragic incident that he survived it, he has to adjust to life while bringing along his on and off girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany) to help out.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany in Stronger (2017)

For the subject matter maintaining on having the story about one of the victims, does have the ability to show off the strengths to make this work. But something about Stronger made me think this wasn’t going to emotionally attracted. Some reviews were mixed at the time saying the same pros but didn’t know not some weren’t intrigued by it. Director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Our Brand is Crisis) throws the perspective in Bauman in a positive way. But is Stronger a possible Oscar contender? Not really. However, this is still a solid drama about getting back to a normal life.  

There’s never a time where I will doubt Gyllenhaal as a performer because he’s that talented in everything he’s in. He brought something to Bauman that felt real and physically committed to his role. It’s a performance that’s not close to perfection than Nightcrawler. He won’t get nominated because the Academy hates him or something.

Maslany has been a name that’s been very popular since her Emmy-winning roles on Orphan Black. She might as well stole every scene from Gyllenhaal because she showed off her dramatic skills. Her portrayal of Erin also has to deal with taking care of Jeff because she feels like it’s her fault for him being at the finish line just for her. Both she and Gyllenhaal had terrific chemistry.

Jake Gyllenhaal in Stronger (2017)

The road to recovery is a difficult process for everybody to go through in life. The same goes for Bauman trying to get through rehab and doing things for himself. Everybody in town calls him a “hero”, and he doesn’t necessarily want to be called that. The approach into that Green was trying to convey with John Pollono’s screenplay is different and taken in a mature way.

This wasn’t really emotional as I thought. Even were a couple moments that felt raw and real that’s coming between dialogue, it did hit me, but not in a way that would show tears, I guess. The way they’re trying to follow through Jeff’s recovery doesn’t feel right and should’ve shown more leading up to it. And then when it comes to Jeff’s family, they were in it too much with them dealing with what happened to them.

It just feels a little off that we already have two movies focusing on the Boston Marathon bombing. The other one was Patriot’s Day, which was one of my favorite movies of last year. Though that was mainly about the manhunt, Stronger stays focus an actual victim. Maybe it’s me, but I really responded more to Patriot’s Day in the bases on that made me more emotionally than this.

Although Stronger does fall into some cliche, it doesn’t take away the powerhouse performance from Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany. Grade: B

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