CIFF 17 Review: Stronger

Jeff Bauman loses both of his legs when two bombs explode during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. After regaining consciousness in the hospital, Jeff is able to help law enforcement identify one of the suspects, but his own battle is just beginning. With unwavering support from his family and girlfriend, Bauman embarks on a long and heroic journey to physical and emotional rehabilitation.

Anchored by two profound performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany, Stronger follows the typical storytelling formula for a biopic but succeeds thanks to the performances and David Gordon Green’s talent behind the camera. A devastating story still fresh to many, Patriots Day captured the tragic event as a whole while Stronger takes a look at one victim specifically and how the repercussions forever changed his life.

Gyllenhaal and Maslany have this natural chemistry that makes you feel for both of them as their characters try to keep their relationship afloat while Jeff struggles with his routine life. Gordon Green depicts Bauman as a conflicted man who wasn’t necessarily a saint. Bauman is frustrated, impatient, and tough to connect with. Despite his faults we can’t help but sympathize for him as his story serves as motivation for many Boston locals.

Gyllenhaal once again gives a career defining performance, this time in a much more nuanced role. Thanks to the team in front and behind the camera, Stronger manages to break away from the ordinary method of biopics and tell a compelling story.

Rating: 8/10

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