A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “STRONGER” – 8.5

“ STRONGER” – 8 ½

In a word:  Heartbreaking

     The movie is a docudrama about love, compassion, outrage, sacrifice and most of all, struggle in coping with extreme personal tragedy.

     The story begins with the Boston Marathon bombing four years ago, which took the lives of  three innocent people and seriously injured hundreds more including 16 people who lost limbs. Jeff Bauman was one of these, a regular blue collar fellow who happened to be in attendance near the finish line to cheer on his girlfriend when the bombs went off.

     I remember seeing the first news photos of this young man in 2013, lying in shock amid the chaos, with his shin bone protruding through the skin of his lower leg.

     Surprisingly, the movie is not so much about the bombing or terrorism, or the investigation. It’s about one man, and the people who love him, and his life-changing catastrophe becoming a double-amputee. While Bauman’s life is turned inside out, so are the lives of his family members plus the girl he loves.

    The movie portrays Bauman’s long time relationship with Erin Hurley as having been rocky, in and out, breaking up, making up. At the time of the bombing, Erin had not been speaking to Jeff, but the bomb changed all that.  The love and devotion by this woman, under the harshest of circumstances, demonstrates the definition of true love. Not only had Jeff’s life been severely altered, but so had Erin’s, though she could have walked away.

     If you are a student of the acting profession, this picture offers two Oscar-worthy performances, one by journeyman Jake Gyllenhaal (portraying Bauman) and the other by newbie, Tatiana Maslany (portraying Erin). This young lady’s extraordinary skills will surely be in demand for future movies that cast first-class female roles. What’s refreshing is that this attractive actress is no ravishing sex-pot as Hollywood usually demands, rather, she’s just one of us, a regular American with heart.  

     It’s tough holding on to emotions in this film, particularly because it is a true story. 

     Criticisms?  I thought the title sucked. The movie does drag slowly in spots, but the compelling story is worth sitting through.  Some folks may find an overuse of the “F” bomb within the dialogue, but in this “blue-collar” setting, it’s simply reality.

     What’s omitted from the film is the actual terror investigation, although Bauman is depicted in one hospital scene helping the FBI with descriptions of one bomber. The suffering of Bauman and his inner circle, transcends the suffering experienced by hundreds more.

     I give this 8 ½ out of 10.

     Click here: Stronger (2017) – IMDb

 

2 Responses to A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “STRONGER” – 8.5

  1. Bob James September 24, 2017 at 10:26 am #

    Marshall,

    Thank you for a compelling review of “Stronger.” I will certainly see this movie when it becomes available in my area. Being a 6 times marathoner myself (3 Orange Bowl and 3 Chicago), I always look forward to watching the Boston Marathon. It has been an American Institution since it was first run in 1897.

    America was horrified on April 15, 2013 when the Tsarnaev brothers, two ISLAMIC MUSLIM IMMIGRANT TERRORISTS from a small Russian republic fashioned deadly time bombs out of pressure cookers and placed them in the crowds near the finish line of the Boston Marathon so the damage to life and limb could be maximal.

    I have seen the photo of the dazed, gravely injured Jeff Bauman, being taken away in a wheel chair with most of his shattered shin bone exposed and protruding from his leg. Sorry to hear of the overuse of the “F” bomb in the movie. From my point of view, it adds absolutely nothing to the “realism” of any movie. I get it Hollywood. People do use the “F” bomb in real life. On the screen, it is merely unnecessary vulgarity.

  2. Art M. September 25, 2017 at 11:27 am #

    Checked out the movie and it is definitely a powerful message and performance.
    It has meaning for me since I grew up outside of Boston and went to
    college there, Northeastern University.

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