Stronger: Film Review

If you saw Mark Wahlberg‘s recent movie Patriots Day, you would have learned all about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the grand scale of the operation to catch the culprits. Stronger also tackles the same tragedy, but on a micro scale, honing in on the experience of one victim.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jeff Bauman, who lost both of his legs in the bombing. He had been at the finish line to cheer on his on-off girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany) in an attempt to convince her to take him back. The film follows Bauman as he struggles to accept his new disability and fame and how it affects his loved ones.

When it was announced that there were two Boston Marathon bombing movies coming out this year, I had a groan, but this is so different in every way. It is focused on the experience of one person and rather than large scale action, it is all about the emotional and mental effect going through something that horrific can have.

I know there has been a lot of criticism about Gyllenhaal’s casting, but he made the project come to life and get the funding so this wouldn’t have been seen without him. He gives an impressive performance every time and this is no exception. Bauman isn’t always likeable – he can quite a dick to his family at times and turns to alcohol a lot – and it doesn’t shy away from showing all these sides of him. It also doesn’t gloss over some of the issues within his family.

The standout performance for me though was actually Maslany. I didn’t watch Orphan Black so I don’t know her work and she blew me away. Her performance was powerful and I connected with her more.

I like the gritty, realistic, unglossy approach but there were times when it got too shouty. I know people do that in real life but I just can’t deal with people shouting over each other, I just want to scream “shut uuuup!”

Although it is pretty conventional, Stronger was better than I thought it was going to be and that’s mainly down to the performances and occasional injection of humour. That totally worked and it is nice to have some light moments. Worth a watch.

Originally seen as part of the 61st BFI London Film Festival. In cinemas Friday 8th December. 

SEE ALSO: Jake Gyllenhaal discussing Stronger at a London Q&A 

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