I had the pleasure of seeing the movie Stronger right on opening day because of a specific circumstance I will bring up later in this post. The movie told the story based on true events of a specific individual who was caught in the crossfire of the Boston Marathon bombing that happened on April 15th 2013. That person is Jeff Bauman and his journey of rehabilitation after losing both of his legs during the tragic event.
If anyone is unfamiliar with his personal story, this movie will do a justice to give you an insight of how he was able to pick up and keep fighting and in the sense of the word get stronger mentally and physically. Turns out he was involved in helping the law catch the bombers involved during the attack. Including the close and unlimited amount of support from his family friends and on/off girlfriend at the time, he still has a long way to go to become the man he knows himself to be and build a life for himself after this random change in his life.
To play Jeff Bauman is none other than Jake Gyllenhaal who does a fantastic job capturing Bauman with his looks, mannerisms, and positive sense of humor that just brought Bauman to life on screen. Gyllenhaal always seemed like an actor to me that is very versatile when he has to be. He can be goofy and funny but also bring in the intensity and struggle of emotional pain goes through when they have suffered a lost. Gyllenhaal excels in every scene he is put in giving us a clear and in your face example of what it may be like for someone who is having trouble getting their life back together after such an event. No doubt about it that they picked the right man for the job.
Another aspect of this movie that was great is that even though the movie is based on a true event, the movie shifts focus from that event and concentrates on the personal life of Bauman and his loved ones who have also been effect by this tragedy. I think if they spent more time on the actual event it would have taken away the character development and story away from the main characters.
Through all of melancholy and dramatic scenes shown on screen, this movie wasn’t afraid to have fun and let the audience laugh and take a break from feeling sorry for Bauman and the loss of his legs. Like Bauman, we get to witness him and his friends have a little fun and make light out of a dark situation which I thought was great. I became very impressed with how even waking up for the first time in the hospital after his immediate surgery that he can joke about something that happened to him in a time when people are still feeling sad for what happened. Bauman is a funny guy and makes it aware that this different life he has now is not going to destroy him. Through this ordeal he still has a lot to learn about being a man and taking charge of his life and understanding that even though this has happened to him, he is not the only one that has been forever changed by this event. I would say that is the overall theme of this movie in addition to watching him slowly be rehabilitated to walk again on his own.
This movie had a few slow parts to it that kind of dragged and moments I wish were more explored in the film. Especially the relationship between Bauman and his mother. The love story with Bauman and his girlfriend played by Tatiana Maslany, followed some of the high and low troupes of a relationship in movies but was still nice to watch. Overall, I think the movie was done well but felt pretty long. The supporting cast did a great job with the roles they were given and they all made you feel included in the task of getting Bauman through his self-discovery. There is something wonderful about this movie that separates itself from just being a typical movie based on a true story. It manages to earn your feelings towards them whether its happiness, tears, or even anger and frustration.
I would say that this movie is for anyone who is a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal. You will be impressed by his performance. Anyone who would like a look through the peephole and witness a little bit of Jeff Bauman’s life and what he had to go through. Otherwise, this is a movie that doesn’t need to be seen immediately at the theatres but if you like a good drama that is sad but also uplifting, this will not disappoint.
As for why I ended up seeing this on opening day when I would normally wait until Blu-ray to watch this is that I had the opportunity to see this movie and proceeding the screening there was a Q&A with the writer, producer, and the man himself Jake Gyllenhaal. That was a wonderful treat to be a part of and even if the moment was brief it was worth it and glad that I was able to be a part of that and finally see him in person.
3 ½ out of 5 #Bostonstrong