Where: At a cinema near you
Who: Jake Gyllenhaal plays a man who loses both of his legs in a terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon
When: Stronger can now be seen anywhere in the U.S. and the UK
Why: Gyllenhaal is very good but the movie should’ve been better
Jake Gyllenhaal is very good in a true story of a man who was severely injured in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 in the new film ‘Stronger.’
Gyllenhaal plays Jeff Bauman, a young man who lives with his alcoholic mother Patty (played by Miranda Richardson) and is in a quasi-relationship with Erin (Tatiana Maslany). ‘Stronger’ sets the scene (we know what is going to happen) by Jeff proving to Erin that their on-again and off-again relationship is back on again as he tells her that he will be at the finish line when she finishes at the Boston Marathon. On the day of the marathon, Jeff is there, near the finish line when he, along with several other people, become victims of the bomb attacks by brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who planted two bombs along the route. Jeff is severely injured and loses both of his legs, and it’s a long and difficult process that sees him through a few highs, and many many lows, as he deals not just with having to learn to live with no legs, but also to deal with the relationships around him. Erin still loves him, but is it true love or does she really feel sorry for him? Then there’s his mom, who is relishing in his newfound fame, enough so that she can’t contain her excitement when Jeff is asked to be on The Oprah Winfrey show. And Jeff, at times, feels very sorry for himself, collapsing in the bathroom in just trying to perform the simplest tasks we all take for granted. What remains constant in his life is the friendships he has with his mates – they don’t treat him any different and even get him into trouble, just like the old days. But Jeff is, as the title suggests, ‘Stronger,’ and will overcome what life has thrown his way.
Gyllenhaal is really gunning for an Oscar nomination for this movie. It’s just another role in which Gyllenhaal excels in playing a man who has to deal with adversity in the wake of tragic events, and who has to overcome a lot just to get to the other side. He might not get one as he’s missed out on a Golden Globe nomination. If ‘Stronger’ were a bit better perhaps it would be showered with awards. Richardson, as his mother Patty, is just a caricature of a Bostonian mother hen, while Maslany is a bit too over confident and at times too bossy in her role as the girlfriend. And ‘Stronger’ has way too many red, white and blue rah rah rah moments. It’s a bit too much when Jeff is wheeled onto a crowded basketball arena in his wheelchair – a moment that he can’t take in and we can’t really quite believe. And while I don’t know if this film is 100% factual, at the end where lots of people come up to him and thank him and tell him their personal stories is a lump in your throat moment. ‘Stronger’ details Jeff’s injuries, both physical and emotional, and his relationship with Erin in a film that is both touching, sentimental, dramatic and inspirational, but could’ve been better. Gyllenhaal is the best thing in the film. He can take roles on, and be successful, dramatically changing, when he needs to, his appearance, or by just being himself. It’s the Gyllenhaal way.