Stronger

(2017)

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Title:
Stronger
Release Date:
22nd September 2017
Runtime:
119 min
MPAA Rating:
R
Genres:
Directors:
David Gordon Green
Writers:
Jeff Bauman, John Pollono
Languages:
English
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

Stronger is the inspiring real life story of Jeff Bauman, an ordinary man who captured the hearts of his city and the world to become a symbol of hope following the infamous 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 95%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 89%
IMDb Rating 7.6

Casts

Jake Gyllenhaal as Jeff Bauman
Miranda Richardson as Patty Bauman
Nate Richman as Big D
Tatiana Maslany as Erin Hurley

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MisterWhiplash 24th September, 2017

bares its heart and is both exceptional in its rending of its heart and its humor.

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!

Reviewed by Dave McClain ([email protected]) 23rd September, 2017

Interesting and mildly inspirational, but also kind of bland

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"

Reviewed by jdesando 22nd September, 2017

A docudrama that gives you more than history. Well done.

"Boston is the cream of the crop of the marathon world. It has such history that you feel such honor just being a part of it. All the other races have pacers to get you to a Boston qualifying time." Summer Sanders For those of us who have attended the Boston Marathon, the 15 April 2013 bombing was a personal matter about a public but humane event characterized by a warm communal vibe tethered to a strong competitive event. Director David Gordon Green's intimately-told Stronger depicts the ordeal of Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal), who lost two legs to the bombs but not his will to rise above the tragedy. The strength of this docudrama is the mercurial relationship between Jeff and his girlfriend, Erin (Tatiana Maslany). Avoiding the cliched story of overcoming all obstacles, Stronger takes time with the smaller things of life, like family and going to the bathroom. Gyllenhaal, a producer of this film, relays his torment about connecting permanently with her while he retains the sense of humor that lets him joke about his lost legs right after gaining consciousness in the hospital (Forrest Gump, Lt. Dan joke). A most personal and humane story, Stronger evidences the heroic possibilities even in the most common of men. Specifically, as a chicken processor at COTCO, Jeff holds not much promise for such a prospect as Erin. Yet he's a good person, a smart person, and brighter than his Chelmsford buds and his boozy mother, Patty (Miranda Richardson). All of these characters are so believably "Boston," I thought I was back working in Dorchester. Alas, no docudrama is perfect, and this one suffers from shots and scenes too slow, and eventually the almost two-hour film is too long by about 15 minutes. However, just maybe the filmmakers wanted us to feel the numbing effect of a long marathon that couldn't have foreseen it would become iconic. "Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint." Angela Duckworth

Reviewed by David Ferguson ([email protected]) 21st September, 2017

personal impact

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.

Reviewed by simonfainshtein 9th September, 2017

Stronger Review

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.