Review: 'Stronger'

As far as movies go, the fall typically means an abundance of well-crafted films are soon to be released, and David Gordon Green’s Stronger is one of these that most audiences may not have heard about. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany in a moving, true story of Jeff Bauman’s survival of the Boston Marthan bombing.

In 2013 when the bombing of the Boston Marathan took place, Jeff Bauman was waiting at the finish line for his on again, off again girlfriend, Erin Hurley. Losing his legs in the blast and barely coming out alive, Bauman went through extensive rehab to eventually walk again with prosthetic legs. The film highlights the relationship between Bauman and Hurley to tell an emotional story of Jeff’s transformation into an inspiration for the people of Boston.

Filmmaker David Gordon Green has quite the range of experience, with dramas like George Washington, to comedies like Pineapple Express, and even independent films like Prince Avalanche. His newest film, Stronger, which I didn’t see any marketing trailers for until the week before its release, has a bit of everything. Quite a bit of drama, a light level of comedy, and a real-life story that tugs at your emotions, making for a film worth seeing.

At this point in his career, there should be no doubt that any film that features Gyllenhaal in a lead role is going to be solid. Canadian actress, Tatiana Maslany, who has shown her range of acting in BBC America’s Orphan Black, delivers a quality performance to go along. Miranda Richardson and Clancy Brown fill out the lesser known, but adequate supporting cast.

Instead of focusing on the shock of the bombing itself and subsequent manhunt to find the terrorists responsible like Peter Berg’s Patriot’s Day does, Stronger dramatizes Bauman’s recovery from the incident. There is a heavy dose of sentiment throughout as Bauman deals with the mental results of his experience and struggles to keep his life together, including the relationship with Erin Hurley.

Stronger stirs up feelings of patriotism and pride for Boston, and there is no doubt you will walk away feeling that Americans know how to survive tragedy and pick up the pieces of their shattered lives even after such a horrendous event. Bauman’s journey and introspection into how to move on is deep and moving. The film has a fair amount of language, brief sexual content, and some scenes involving the accident or injury that can be hard to watch.

I watch a lot of movies, and I didn’t even know this film was coming out until I saw a trailer on TV the day before its release. The film recently screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival in typical indie fashion and is now available in theaters. Perhaps the lack of marketing and strong quality of this film is an indication of good movies still to come this year.

4 out of 5 stars.

Stronger is rated R for language throughout, some graphic injury images, and brief sexuality/nudity. Running time is 1 hour and 56 minutes.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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