Stronger is the inspiring real-life story of Jeff Bauman, an ordinary man who captured the hearts of his city and the world to become a symbol of hope after surviving the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Jake Gyllenhaal‘s performance is great but the rest of the cast and the performances in general were dull, especially the romance and some of the jokes that were in the film were completely not needed to be in there.
Stronger is a somewhat inspirational, but mostly bland bio-pic. With no disrespect to Jeff Bauman or any of the others directly or indirectly affected by the Boston Marathon Bombing, their individual stories are interesting but aren’t necessarily best served in the format of a feature film. Having said that, this one does about as good of a job as can be expected, given its limited focus. The screenplay by writer/actor John Pollono adapts the book of the film’s title without being exploitive or flashy, telling the story almost entirely chronologically and only occasionally drifting into melodrama. Director David Gordon Green does here what he did with 2014’s “Manglehorn” and 2015’s “Our Brand is Crisis”, telling a story solidly, but making it less impactful than it probably should’ve been.
Green does, however, often get excellent performances out of his actors and this film is no exception. Gyllenhaal is as great as he was in similarly emotional roles like the desperate astronaut in Life, the grieving father in Nocturnal Animals and the down-and-out boxer in Southpaw while Richardson and Maslany completely inhabit their roles. All three are award-worthy, especially Maslany in her most high-profile feature film role to date. In this film, she will be a revelation to many Movie Fans, while they may also notice and wonder how Gyllenhaal manages to continue giving exceptional performances in high-quality films every single year. This one may not be as exceptional as some man-versus-self films, but it’s worth a look.
STRONGER is available to own on Digital Download from 2nd April and DVD & Blu-ray from 9th April.
Drama, Biography | USA, 2017 | 15 |9th April 2018 (UK) | Lionsgate Films | Dir.David Gordon Green | Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson | Buy:[Blu-ray]
Faith, Hope and Love: Becoming Stronger
Featurette documenting both the real life story (including interviews with Jeff Bauman) and the filming process. This seems slightly padded with clips from the film at times, but the behind the scenes footage is good and many of the interviews are interesting.