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  • ferguson-621 September 2017
    Greetings again from the darkness. There is a fine line between getting chewed out by your Costco supervisor one day and having the country claim you as a hero the next. Just ask Jeff Bauman. On April 15, 2013 Jeff was near the finish line for the Boston Marathon, holding a handmade sign in support of his runner-girlfriend Erin. When she was still about a mile away, the two bombs went off, killing three people and injuring hundreds. Mr. Bauman lost his legs that day.

    When Jeff regained consciousness in the hospital (after two surgeries), he was able to provide the FBI a detailed physical description of one of the bombers. His information led directly to the identification of one of the scumbag brothers responsible for this atrocity. Immediately, Jeff was hailed as a hero – both locally and nationally. The film does a nice job of telling Jeff's story and how his life unfolded over the next few months.

    Director David Gordon Green is responsible for such disparate film projects as OUR BRAND IS CRISIS, MANGLEHORN, and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS. He may seem an odd choice to adapt the film from the book by Jeff Bauman and Bret Witter (screenplay by John Pollono), but the story is so moving and heart-warming, and the three lead actors are so good that we immediately connect with each of them.

    Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jeff, Tatiana Maslany ("Orphan Black") plays Erin, and Miranda Richardson tears up the screen as Jeff's mother, Patty. Mr. Gyllenhaal is remarkable (as usual) as the working class local boy who truly believes his lucky seat and beer determine success or failure for his beloved Bruins and Red Sox. His initial portrayal is spot on for the normal guy who seems caught in the web of eternal teenage mentality so common in the male species. As he struggles with his new life challenges, he strives to do better, but simply doesn't understand why he is viewed as a hero … and doesn't particularly embrace what comes with the label, at least early on. Ms. Maslany is terrific as the guilt-ridden, confused-yet-strong, on-again-off- again girlfriend to Jeff. She fights through being treated as an outsider by the family, and the daily grind of caring for a guy who needs constant help. The twice Oscar nominated Miranda Richardson is unlike we have ever seen her on screen. Despite being a Brit, Ms. Richardson captures the Boston sauciness (in more ways than one) and takes no 'stuff' from anyone. Her performance is stunning.

    Of course, at its core, this is an inspirational story about how a normal guy became a hero after a tragic event. The recent Mark Wahlberg film PATRIOTS DAY focused on the aftermath and investigation, while here the attention is on the emotional story of one man and one family. We see the recreation of the flag-waving at the Boston Bruins game, and the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park. We also see the obstacles faced when rehabilitation and care- giving becomes too much to bear. Carlos Arredondo and his cowboy hat and heroics are also given much-deserved space here. His back story is heart-breaking, and a reminder that everyone has a story, and each of us can be a hero in some way. Since life isn't a movie, the realities are that Jeff and Erin have since divorced, but that in no way reduces the impact of their touching story that inspires each of us to be stronger.
  • (RATING: ☆☆☆☆½ out of 5 )

    GRADE: B+


    IN BRIEF: A gritty and emotional film that couldn't ask for a stronger performance than the one given by Jake Gyllenhaal.

    SYNOPSIS: A biography of Jeff Bauman, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing.

    JIM'S REVIEW: The odds against Jeff Bauman surviving the horror of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing were slim and the chances any moviegoer won't be moved to tears and uplifted by this one man's personal tale of survival while experiencing David Gordon Green's Stronger are even less.

    This heartfelt film takes on the before and after view of this common man. First seen as a hometown boy (before being cast as an hometown hero to the world), Jeff (Jake Gyllenhaal) was a fun-loving avid Boston Red Sox fan caught in an on-again / off again relationship with his girlfriend, Erin (Tatianna Maslany). He lived an ordinary life, one filled with bars, beer, and blue collar stock characters. Then came the terrorist bombing which changed everything.

    The story itself is predictable and manipulative, yet emotionally gripping. John Pollono's screenplay follows the formula to the T, or should I say from Point A (the horrific event) to Point B (overcoming the obstacles and hardships) to its uplifting Point C ending (pride and redemption). That said, it all works most effectively, due its honest depiction of a man in crisis.

    And having that person played by the talented Mr. Gyllenhaal, a fine method actor who immersed himself in this real life role, gives the film the honest integrity and authenticity the film needs which helps to separate the movie from most biographies that wallow in self-pity and inner strength. Watching him struggle to come to terms with his injuries and finally walk with two prosthetic legs is gut-wrenching and Mr. Gyllenhaal shows his character's human flaws and intrinsic hopes with the least amount of melodramatic excess. His performance deserves award recognition.

    Where the film truly succeeds is in avoiding the clichés of most biopics by making our hero too heroic and unreal. Mr. Gordon's direction is concise and insightful. He never allows Stronger to weaken. His film doesn't flinch from the ugly side of Jeff's rehabilitation, his dysfunctional family, and his sacrifices just to lead a normal life. It wisely covers the issue of instant fame and becoming a pawn for network news, a necessary symbol of courage for a nation, even if our hero wants none of that adoration. The film does end on an inspirational false note, as most film biopics do, in a scene at the ballpark that takes a misstep into gross sentimentality and an unabashed shout-out to patriotism. But the story always remains compelling and the acting is superb.

    The rest of the cast could easily have played their parts rather routinely and still bring about the emotional clout: suffering girlfriend, loyal friends, worrisome parents, etc. But the actors shy away from the obvious and give their characters some gravitas. Ms. Maslany makes a fine partner as Jeff's supporting girlfriend, showing the pain and frustration beautifully. Carlos Sanz as the man who saved Jeff's life during the bombing, has a quiet and touching scene that is so nuanced and heartbreaking in its subtlety. It shows the collective despair of survivors and their kin. Miranda Richardson, as Jeff's boozy mother, is so memorable in her supporting role that she becomes unrecognizable, creating an indelible character while exposing her human flaws. Her rivalry with Erin brings needed tension to the family dynamics which separates this film from the run-of-the-mill inspirational saga. There are many scenes of undeniable pathos and melancholy, insightful moments in time, especially the parking lot confrontation between the two leads that builds to an emotional zenith.

    Stronger is a rarity, a powerful film based on a true life story that is true to life. With a strong central performance, fine direction, and a screenplay that works on many emotional levels, this is one of the year's most satisfying dramas. Do not miss it!

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  • After a tragedy occurs, telling the stories of the individuals affected is often the best way for others to understand and relate to what happened. That's what the 2017 biographical drama "Stronger" (R, 1:56) does with the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing and the story of victim Jeff Bauman. He only survived because another bystander, Carlos Arredondo, ran to the scene of the explosion, put tourniquets on both of Jeff's legs, placed him in a wheelchair and helped get him into an ambulance. A New York Times photo by Josh Haner, which showed Jeff in that wheelchair, with Carlos at his side, became iconic. Responding to widespread interest in his story, he joined forces with best-selling author Bret Witter to write what became the 2014 book "Stronger", which is the basis for this film.

    Before the Marathon Bombing, Jeff Bauman (Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal) was an unremarkable, anonymous guy born and raised in Boston. He worked at Costco and loved his hometown sports teams – especially the Red Sox – to the point of superstition and even obsession. He lived in a modest apartment with his divorced alcoholic mother, Patty (Oscar nominee Miranda Richardson). Jeff was obsessed with local girl Erin Hurley (Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany), whom he had dated… and who had already broken up with him three times. On the night of April 14, 2003, Jeff and Erin were still apart when she came into a neighborhood bar where Jeff and his friends were watching the Red Sox game on TV. He went over to talk to her, helped her get the other bar patrons to contribute to her effort to raise money by participating in the marathon and he promised to be there for her the next day at the finish line holding a sign.

    The next day, as Jeff's waiting for Erin at the end of the course, a man bumps into him and Jeff turns to look at the guy who is walking away. Jeff looks down at something in the street. Then comes the explosion. Jeff finds himself on the ground lying in a pool of his own blood. Erin hears the sound ahead of her. She stops running, ducks into a local bar and sees on the TV a picture of Jeff, injured and being tended to by strangers. She rushes to the hospital, where Jeff's family and friends were also gathering. Jeff's father (Clancy Brown) fumes and even lashes out at Jeff's boss (Danny McCarthy) who shows up to offer help. After waiting anxiously, Jeff's loved ones learn that doctors had to amputate both legs above the knees. When he wakes up, not only does he manage to keep his sense of humor and his usual positive attitude (relatively speaking, of course), he's also able to give the FBI valuable information about the bombing.

    Obviously, Jeff survives, but his life and the lives of those closest to him are changed forever. We see the pain and discomfort that Jeff's injuries cause him – both in the hospital and when he finally gets to come home – and we follow him as he adjusts to life without legs and begins the long and difficult recovery process. He receives gifts and well wishes from all over the world, he's greatly in demand for media interviews and he is given the opportunity to make public appearances at Bruins and Red Sox games. He goes along with much of it, but he really doesn't want any of it. He doesn't even want to meet with Carlos (Carlos Sanz), the man who saved his life. Jeff says that he doesn't want to be reminded of the worst day of his life. Jeff wants to walk again, but he approaches the challenge half- heartedly. He needs the love and support of his family, his friends and, especially Erin, even though he often treats them unkindly and even pushes them away. He doesn't want to be famous or inspirational, but it's out of his control. Something has got to give.

    "Stronger" is a somewhat inspirational, but mostly bland bio-pic. With no disrespect to Jeff Bauman or any of the others directly or indirectly affected by the Boston Marathon Bombing, their individual stories are interesting, but aren't necessarily best served in the format of a feature film. Having said that, this one does about as good of a job as can be expected, given its limited focus. The screenplay by writer-actor John Pollono (who plays Tyler on TV's "This is Us") adapts the book of the film's title without being exploitive or flashy, telling the story almost entirely chronologically and only occasionally drifting into melodrama. Director David Gordon Green (mainly known for producing and directing TV series like "East Bound & Down" and "Vice Principals") does here what he did with 2014's "Manglehorn" and 2015's "Our Brand is Crisis", telling a story solidly, but making it less impactful than it probably should've been.

    Green does, however, often get excellent performances out of his actors and this film is no exception. Gyllenhaal is as great as he was in similarly emotional roles like the desperate astronaut in "Life" (2017), the grieving father in "Nocturnal Animals" (2016) and the down-and-out boxer in "Southpaw" (2015), while Richardson and Maslany completely inhabit their roles. All three are award-worthy, especially Maslany in her most high-profile feature film role to date, following her personal triumph that is TV's "Orphan Black". In this film, she will be a revelation to many Movie Fans, while they may also notice and wonder how Gyllenhaal manages to continue giving exceptional performances in high-quality films every single year. This one may not be as exceptional as some man-versus-self films, but it's worth a look. "B"
  • ThomasDrufke24 September 2017
    It's unfair to compare Stronger to Patriots Day, since they are entirely different features, but they will inevitably be pitted against each other in terms of quality. Luckily, both films are fantastic and present two completely different sides of the story, therefore both are worthy of being made. I was certainly moved to tears more than once in Patriots Day, but there's something truly special about Stronger. Quiet but powerful, Stronger keeps its focus on one unbelievable story without forgetting the importance of everyone banning together in Boston following the terrorist attack at the 2013 marathon.

    It all starts with Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany's chemistry together as Jeff Bauman and Erin Hurley, a couple severely impacted by the bombing. Jeff, learning how to walk again after having his legs blown off, became a symbol of hope for the city of Boston, and quite frankly still is. Where Patriots Day focused solely on the bombing and bombers, Stronger keeps its focus on what an event like this can do to an already trying relationship. Their relationship is the heart and soul of the film, and Maslany and Gyllenhaal do a phenomenal job of making their chemistry feel real and grounded with earned emotion. I can't tell you how many times I felt overwhelmed with emotion just watching these actors work through their scenes together.

    The entire film is grounded with that emotion, though. And several performances are worthy of Oscar nominations. I personally think Gyllenhaal and Maslany should be locks, but Miranda Richardson made a strong case for the supporting category playing Bauman's mother, Patty. These actors were the sole reason that I feel Stronger transcended the typical bio-drama in every sense. I love the quiet sense of dramatic weight that Stronger had. It doesn't show a ton of blood or trauma from the bombing, nor do we get extended close-ups of Gyllenhaal's loss of legs. Instead, director David Gordon Green ops to have his actors give the audience plenty of emotion through their words and facial expressions.

    Stronger is a remarkably moving experience. It's really a personal romance that transcends into something that makes a whole generation inspired. Watch out for this one, it will be a sleeper pick come Oscar season, hopefully.

  • Jithindurden24 December 2017
    Even though there are some scenes at the end featuring 'inspirational' scenes the film mostly focuses on the recovery of the character where he is never as strong as everyone thinks him to be and he doesn't express anything to most of them either. With strong ensemble cast Stronger manages to be worth a watch even though it has a derivative plot and structure.
  • Oscar nomination for Jake Gyllenhaal for sure, winning? I don't thinks so, even though Americans and the academy will eat this up like a Christmas pie.

    It has been a long time that I've seen a a movie where the actors performance is better than the movie itself. He will get nominated, as well as Tatiana Maslany, who I see actually having better chances of winning the Oscar, but in the end both might be going home empty handed.

    Yes its a real story, but I would like to know how much of the personal stuff was actually....lets say... modified for dramatic purposes. The end is super cringy and way to American which damages the movie more than anything else. In the last 5mins the movie destroyed all the good build up. It will probably be loved in the USA, but all other countries will be very disturbed and cringed by it, as the whole patriotism and hero chanting is way to much in this movie. Still...worth watching, but I have to say, that I was a little bit disappointed in the end.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Was the TV series shameless based on this guys family?his parents should hang their heads in shame if everything in this film is correct,even his friends were inbred scum...I felt sorry for the guy in more ways than one having those as relatives. In the end the banner waving,you beat terrorism sickly Americanism gets too much towards the end.
  • Jeff Bauman is an amazing and nice guy who went through the hell of losing both his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013, and became a huge inspiration to the people of this (Boston) area, the nation and the world. His book captured his experience with gratitude, a down to earth likable personality, and humor. None of those qualities made it into the movie, which unfortunately does him a huge disservice. The biggest problem is that virtually everyone in this pic is hugely unlikable. Hollywood also thinks that Lenny Clarke has to be in every Boston movie. There's no sense of the bigger story of the bombing and how the community truly rallied around the injured. Bauman moves back in with his alcoholic mother -- a second floor apartment, with stairs, with no modifications made for a double amputee -- and everybody goes on like nothing happened. Just not accurate. I understood that the point is that reality wasn't as inspirational as it seemed, but they depicted Bauman having an angry flashback/violent outburst when he appeared at the Bruins game to wave the flag just weeks after the bombing. Watch the video of the real event and see the pure joy on his face that boosted a whole city. It was lousy how they changed that. A few graphic scenes just not necessary. I also don't get why Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez was given a cameo when nobody else was, he was really out of place. The man who saved his life, Carlos Arredondo, is himself an amazing man and an inspirational activist who was portrayed as a sad sack whom Bauman had no desire to meet. This was also not true. On the whole I was disappointed by how ungrateful (or lazy!) Bauman was made to look, when gratitude and spirit came across so forcefully in the book. So I'm glad the movie is doing well, I'm glad people like it, and I hope it makes a lot of money. But read his book to get the real, much more amazing and inspiring story. Bauman will need financial support for the rest of his life.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Let me say this off the bat. I saw this film primarily because of Jake Gyllenhaal and the rave reviews he's gotten in portraying Jeff Bauman, the young man who lost his legs in the '13 Boston Marathon bombing and became a symbol of hope. Not because I think the bombing itself has not gotten enough attention and analysis from all quarters imaginable. The film is less about the day of the bombing than about Bauman's long road back afterward. On paper, this didn't look exceptionally enticing, but the rousing reviews drew me in. A well-received film with an actor of Gyllenhaal's caliber is tough to pass up.

    There is enough narrative flow and great performances from Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany as his transient girlfriend and Miranda Richardson as his hard-drinking, boisterous mother to make this film worth seeing. And the depiction of the bombing itself is well-executed and flashback scenes to Bauman's ravaged condition in the seconds and minutes immediately following the blast are gritty and powerful. The depiction of the family's insensitivity to Bauman's personal hardship is a worthwhile theme here. A scene in which his friends and family are blithely watching a Red Sox game while he has a painful collapse in the bathroom is one of the film's more genuine moments. Maslany captures the girlfriend wonderfully, though I'm tempted to argue her prominence in the film has been overstated in the reviews.

    But make no mistake. I've seen this kind of film many, many, many times before. It does not stand out as far as doing anything ground-breaking. It's a simple blue collar tale of struggle and recovery through sheer heart and will power, the kind of story that has been told through the ages. That's what's disingenuous about the reviews. They led me to believe this was something more than conventional. It's as tried and true as they come. Everything from Hollywood's fixation on the feisty Boston persona to the moment of a tempestuous argument between two loved ones to the bar fight with the token idiot who spouts his nonsense. And there is also that moment in the spotlight with one of your favorite sports teams while masking deep personal turmoil. You have it all here in spades. I give David Gordon Green credit in making hay with a formula that has been done before, seemingly since the earliest of days. Recommended for the great performances.
  • simonfainshtein9 September 2017
    Stronger is a brilliant film with strong performances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, and especially Miranda Richardson. David Gordon Green's choice to use practical lighting and creating a setting that seems real results in an extremely sincere film. John Pollono writes a script that held true to Jeff Blauman's story by focusing more on his struggles and keeping the Boston Marathon tragedy in the background. Also boobs.
  • cvcsong21 October 2017
    This film was pitiful , at best ! Intense, for sure , but not in a good way !! There were a lot of emotions to convey , with this story ... But , as in most movies ,over the last 10 years .. There is a huge lack ,in the choice of vocabulary !!! Wish that I had kept count of the " F " word , which started in the first 30 seconds !! Probably , in the thousands !! Sure... Hollywood thinks that the whole country uses this vulgarity ... Wrong !! Next movie that I see with this garbage , I will ask for a refund ! Please stop ... Learn to express feelings and emotions ,where every other word is not F... "Stronger " was not a film that I would recommend .... Even though the acting was fairly good .... It probably should have been used on another one of the many other tragedies on that Boston Day !! It was sad to think that anyone would have to be raised in that dysfunctional mess of a family !, I was not really expecting any feel good film , but this was depressing , in too many ways !! Thus , my 2 stars !,
  • One of the pleasantries of frequenting movies in the theater : when you go in maybe expecting a decent Gyllenhall performance in what will probably be another sappy true life story and.... Its one of the best faakkin movies of the year (as a Bostonian would say)! David Gordon Green exceeds any expectations by pulling no punches, but at the same time crafting a tender and difficult love story (this could probably be on a double bill with the Big Sick, kind of the reverse side of that maybe). Also Tatiana Maslany shows why she will be around for a while (one hopes) post Orphan Black, and Clancy Brown reminds us why hes still a national treasure in about ten minutes of screen time (as Jeff Bauman's father).

    It's raw, it doesn't pull away, but the filmmaking has a perfect kind of dramatic (and at times surprisingly comedy) touch that never goes too far, never draws out tears like a manipulative bastard. It's wonderful in that encouraging sense that while Bauman helped to ultimately inspire those simply by, you know, not just not dying but that he didn't give up, this director, who might be unique among his peers as a kind of art-house journeyman if that makes sense, crafts another film loaded to the brim with deeply emotional performances that resonate because of Gyllenhall but also everyone else around him. This is a film rich with an atmosphere that is that Boston in certain movies (The Fighter is another) where it feels like you're there.

    Stronger is a case of a filmmaker and cast and entire production going beyond the lines of the usual by taking it down to the level of the basic, and yet it has and wrestles with truly existential problems: if one is still alive, perhaps by a little luck but also from the help of someone else, how do you cope with everyone calling you a hero when you feel like anything but? In other words, it shirks at phoniness, and carries the spirit of what I imagine is Bauman himself. Well well done!
  • "Stronger" the new biopic film about Jeff Bauman and the 2013 Boston marathon bombing is one tale of courage and dealing with pain and sorrow before coming to terms with life thru determination. The film is set from the beginning and deals with the marathon bombing to the struggle and life changing days of one Jeff Bauman(in one of Jake Gyllenhaal's best performances). The city of Boston from the scenes and accents is captured just perfect and the pain and blood wounds seen are felt and seem real like as the hospital stay that involves Jeff and his struggle to get back up with family and friends is highlighted and showcased with such pain and tough determination. This film proves that one's life can be turned upside down with an unexpected event and can change forever. Still with love, courage, and determination it can make one stronger forever.
  • Jeff slaves away in the meat department at Costco. Amputated animal limbs are cured under his supervision. He does a passable job, and only leaves a mess every so often as he punches out. His charm fills the gaps in his work ethic, and his co-workers lift his weight out of admiration.

    Fringing on the side of laziness, Jeff coasts on his ability to win his peers over. The one person immune to his sly likability is Erin. They have been on again, off again several times, and now Jeff is determined to get back on the vessel and stay for good. Erin's hesitation is echoed by her sister's face as Jeff approaching them at the pub.

    Using Erin's upcoming marathon run as an in, Jeff steals her donation jar and proceeds to go on a fundraising venture throughout the bar. Embarrassed, but also significantly tickled, Erin drives away smirking when he promises to be waiting for her at the finish line. She knows all too well that he never shows up.

    Patty, Jeff's mother, still makes him breakfast every morning. They are tight to one another. Too tight in Erin's eyes. He holds onto childhood traditions and expectations. Jeff has made a profession out of sliding by, and his family enables an ignorant worldview of tribalism.

    Boston is a nation state. A brotherhood of macho denial. All things are taken personally, and aid is spat upon. The Bostonian tribe is one of defiance and egomania. When attacked, the community diminishes victims to numbers on a scorecard. The red pinstripes and the golden B's are larger heroes than the blue scrubs and Kevlar overalls.

    Jeff becomes a symbol of this gross displacement of value, and vomits up the poison. Feeling the hopes of thousands crushes him to the bathroom tile. His attempts at standing come with the baggage of victory. He is beating the enemy by living and growing stronger news reports say, but he has lost. Terrorism won; now a city is forced to rewrite history, and breaking an 86-year drought does not come close to evening the score.
  • I can understand why it was a box office flop but the movie is amazing, but it has a lot of heart and pays tribute to Jeff and the people in a great way and Jake Gyllenhaal did a believable and great performance. I found the whole movie touching and needed for the people around the world. But I thought the overall pacing was weird and didn't feel like you followed Jeff which the story is all about but when we got to follow him we got got to see something different, only the depressing parts, him getting depressed and such was right as I see it really unlikely that anyone walks out with no depression after an incident like that.

    Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany were both amazing, portraying them with emotion and humanity and you could really feel like they are real people. The supporting cast was also great, Miranda Richardson standing out the most. Not a likeable character but she does something that I see is realistic portrayal of a mother in that situation. David Gordon Green's vision was unclear at the start but after the movie was finished I noticed what he wanted and the vision he had for it, great movie.
  • It feels strange to point out the flaws in a movie like Stronger. The true story is an inspiring one, and Jake Gyllenhaal's performance is powerful, but this film drags. The moments of greatness are watered down by predictable character arcs and repetitive plot points to the point where the movie becomes just mediocre. Yup. Now I feel like a jerk for not liking it more.
  • patricianledezma7 May 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    Jake gyllenhall did a good job. but the plot was pretty much cliche and predictable. lovable idiot gets maimed, suffers from ptsd, turns into a jerk, yells at everyone, and then finally realizes that he isn't the only one suffering in the world. he then turns into good guy and girl throws herself at him (cuz she's pregnant). Yawn.
  • adrian-437676 November 2017
    I have the greatest respect for Gyllenhaal's acting abilities, and in this film he is quite impressive as a handicapped person, after being seriously wounded by the Boston Marathon bomb blast of 2013. In particular, I had never thought of how painful it can be just to remove dressings from your wounds, and Gyllenhaal conveys it in a sound piece of acting. Sadly, he has far too many silences that annoy rather than allow the viewer to understand the nature of his predicaments.

    Gyllenhaal is potential Oscar material and he might get a nomination here, but he has done better (PRISONERS and NIGHTCRAWLER, for instance). I doubt he will get it on this ticket, where his message, especially his eye message, is not always clear (more through poor direction than incompetent acting).

    I was greatly impressed with Tatiana Maslany's performance, in a much smaller role, but one that completely comes to life. Miranda Richardson is also very good in a thankless role as the oft-drunk mother.

    I was not impressed with the direction or the screenplay. It would have been more interesting if more attention were given to Bauman's part in helping to identify the perpetrators of the Boston attack. There is a great deal of waffling and dithering, pointless dialogue, and 30 minutes less would not have hurt the film.

    Distinctly average bio: 5/10
  • A sad, sloppy movie filled with F bombs, drunks, arrogant hotheads. loud-mouthed low-life's and unlikeable characters...just didn't generate the sympathy factor. I went away from this movie vowing never to go to Boston for any reason
  • The story of stronger is inspirational and heart-warming. It realistically showed how difficult it is to deal with such tragedy, the time it takes to move on and the impact it has on friends and family. It also shows how we can draw beams of light from the darkest of places.

    What makes Stronger worth seeing are the performances from the entire cast. Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany and Miranda Richardson definitely stand out and deserve all the praise there is.

    I also have to agree with some of the fellow reviewers here when it comes to depicting American patriotism and the American way of dealing with things, it went a bit too far, especially towards the end. I have nothing against patriotism, I believe we should be all proud of our countries and roots but also stay within the limits of not going overboard.

    Again, worth seeing for the story itself and the performances.
  • Major movie makers have this annoying habit of trying to turn every success story into wave or genre. If something turns into notable success you can bet your sweet ass that they will try to copy that as long as they can – many years, usually. That's how I've turned away from superhero movies and computer animated features, for example. Even if I loved something initially, I just can't bear to watch the same blueprint again and again and again for 15 or even 30 years. (Then again, there are examples of waves/genres that I still like despite having seen enough of them, raunchy mainstream comedies for example…) „Stronger" belongs to this new wave of creating partly fictional accounts of recent real events which garnered a lot of mass media attention and had an impact on the social conscious of the U.S. It's about Boston marathon bombing in April 2013 and what happened to this one guy (Jake Gyllenhaal) who lost his legs in explosion. The focus is on his family, especially the relations with on-again- off-again girlfriend (Tatiana Maslany). It's actually the second movie about the sad event, following „Patriots Day" released in November 2016 – two months later in Estonian cinemas. Luckily for variety's sake, the two are as different as one could hope… well, excluding the obligatory patriotic/uplifting finale, of course. The former falls into action/thriller/competence porn category and centers on the fervent terrorist hunt after the event. „Stronger" shows that the worst actually comes after the explosion, when survivors have to pick themselves up and continue with their lives. It eschews any action-based approach and ventures boldly into dark relationship drama / character study territory which is great because the leading man Jake Gyllenhaal is good for this type of thing. „Stronger" is promoted as an inspirational movie which doesn't come as a surprise considering the subject of the story and it's importance in modern American history. But its approach to what may be considered as inspirational is refreshingly different from expectations. The story concentrates on how the main character was something of a big baby living under mother's shadow to begin with, and the situ did not turn for the better after the personal tragedy. The family is bunch of (lower) working-class nobodies also, and the makers deserve credit for having been able to build suspense based on just watching their regular life, with drinking, arguing, cumulating stress and all. The girlfriend is the only other major character, and if you wish for more strong female figures in modern movies, you are in for a real treat. Erin is written an ordinary woman by any means but Tatiana Maslany („Orphan Black") plays her into something great and memorable, which compensates well his wounded boyfriend's dark brooding. It's a great performance and one of the things you will probably remember long from this movie. As anticipated, Gyllenhaal's performance is just as good or even better. It's suitable territory for this versatile young actor who never fears to step in the dark side. The moodiness and brooding energy he brings to the role largely defines the whole movie, and how much you like the whole movie probably depends on how well you are able to emphatize with his character and its obvious weakneses and shortcomings. Oscar nominations are a real possibility, especially both for Gyllenhaal and Maslany. I could also see it happening for David Gordon Green the director and John Pollono for adapted screenplay (the story is based on a book written about real events, as said above). If they get lucky, „Stronger" will also snag Oscar noms for best movie, and a number of more technical catgories, including cinematography and make-up. The almost shockingly unattractive and ordinary looks of the main character and his family, is really a thing to savor here. Not to mention Gyllenhaal looking deliciously horrible as a victim, wounds and leg stumps and all. It's safe to assume that most everybody was probably expecting certain amount of glamour from this 'uplifting' movie. After all this long text, I have reached the negative parts which may explain the rather surprisingly low score of 6. I have to say that „Stronger" bears the usual weaknesses of director David Gordon Green's „serious" movies (you probably know better his comedies such as „Pineapple Express"). Green is adept enough at creating atmosphere and intriguing start… but there's always some noticeable limpness to his brand of storytelling which makes losing interest before the end a very real possibility. It's true that „Stronger" has much more dramatic punch than Green's previous known dramas such as „Joe", „Manglehorn", or „Prince Avalanche", but it still manages to lose much of it somewhere during the final chapter. The story is just too long, getting more meandering and self- indulgent toward the end. So… „Stronger" is pretty good for the most part, and certainly deserves praise for daring to be different and doing it well. It's more difficult to predict much box office success because mainstream crowd would find it too uneventful and, probably, depressing. Just the same as Green's other serious movies mentioned above.
  • "Look at this, Boston Strong! You see that Jeff, you're a hero!" "I'm a hero for surviving?" During this exchange Jeff (Gyllenhaal), his uncle (Clarke) and his mother (Richardson) are driving home after a six week stay at the hospital. Jeff's eyes are looking on, puzzled, sullen, and even a little embarrassed that people standing on a highway walkway have made a sign welcoming him back. He doesn't think himself a hero – at this point he has no idea what to think.

    Stronger is the true-life story of Jeff Bauman, an ordinary Boston native who lost his legs in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. While recovering from the trauma of the event, Jeff unwittingly becomes a symbol of hope for a city unnerved; a predicament that puts undue strain on Jeff and his relationships with his family and his on-again-off-again girlfriend Erin (Maslany).

    Wrapped around the familiar story-beats of an earnest but incidental feel-good movie is a narrative that most of the time feels like it's anything but. Director David Gordon Green wisely complicates and subverts the expected narrative by looking up at characters and events through Jeff's unique perspective. In one fell swoop Jeff becomes, in his eyes, a trifling good-news segment, a drain on his family and fuel for Erin's guilty conscience. Everyone, including the man who saved his life (Sanz) labels him a hero. But Jeff is walled up by so many conflicting emotions that trying to confront the actual tragedy is almost insurmountable for him.

    Thus much of the movie is spent with Jeff adapting to the physical limits of being paraplegic while uncomfortably inhibiting the role of a proud survivor. There's a hard fought lesson by the end. One that makes everything worth a watch but that doesn't make moments of Jeff toiling in the bathroom any less harrowing. In one stressful scene Jeff has what appears to be a panic attack after waving the flag at a Bruins game. Erin stands over him trying desperately to touch and comfort him. He aggressively swats her away.

    Stronger's heartbreaking moments do take their toll. And while Jeff's chuckle-headed family of Boston brogued misfits provide levity to offset some of the unpleasantness, the film still packs an emotional wallop that I for one was not expecting; at least not to this penetrating depth and rawness.

    Jake Gyllenhaal; always the underrated actor is master of his domain here. He essentially plays two versions of Jeff – one a likable man-child, the other a fractured soul slowly crawling back from the darkness. Both work so completely and so honestly that when the film dips into the grab-bag of feel-good clichés Gyllenhaal shakes any doubt that we're looking at the real thing.

    When compared to the opportunistic Patriots Day (2016), Stronger has infinitely more to say about the strength of everyday people and how that strength can flourish through love and support. The collective intuition of David Gordon Green, Jake Gyllenhaal and cinematographer Sean Bobbitt breathes real pathos into what just might be the best recovery story put to film. This isn't a movie about a hero; this is a movie about the hero in all of us.
  • I loved this movie. It's based on a true story and it does truely give you all the feelings. It's a good watch if you are interested in individual lifestories.
  • It really hit home. I struggle with trauma from my past. I love you Boston. Thank you Jake. You did an amazing job. Expected nothing less from you.
  • Movies based on true events and true people tend to be high in awards seasons, as where this film somewhat went under the radar and now feels completely ignored and a little forgotten. Even with great reviews and praise for the performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, it seems that the masses weren't too interested with the story. The Boston bombing marathon was a big news tragedy, and since there was already a film previous which covered the subject (Patriot's Day- released the year before), it shouldn't come too much of a surprise that Stronger didn't get much attention at the box office.

    Jake Gyllenhaal's performance as the lead character of Jeff Bauman was good, as was Tatiana Maslany's, but other than them the supporting characters just didn't spark much interest. This movie is much more of a biopic on the events that occurred to Jeff Bauman than actually about the bombing.

    As where Patriot's Day had more to say about actual bombing and tried finding more information about how it happened, who did it and their motive. Their was more action, thrills and overall gritty suspense in Patriot's Day than in Stronger. This film is decent but really depends on if you care about the story of Jeff.
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