“ 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.