Release Date: 8th December 2017
Stronger tells the story of Jeff Bauman, following his recovery after losing his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. He was standing at the finish line, cheering on his girlfriend Erin Hurley, when one of the bombs exploded next to him and shattered both legs below the knees.
Jake Gyllenhaal has the showy role that of happy-go-lucky Jeff, just charming and good-looking enough that he figures he can win Erin (Tatiana Maslany) back with The Big Gesture. But she’s got low expectations for him keeping his latest unsolicited promise — that he’ll be there to cheer her across the line at the finish. And from the moment she hears the blast, Maslany lets you see the fear — “Surely THIS one time he didn’t actually show up?” She lets us feel the grief, the guilt once she realizes yes, he was only there because of her.
It’s a movie with a lot of heart, and it can be seen to be Bauman’s sense of humour that gets him through the heart-wrenching ordeal as well as the support from his girlfriend, mother and family.
The film spends most its time focusing on the interesting aspects of the family dynamic and the crumbling relationship that Jeff is experiencing.
Still, the performances here are impressive and the narrative takes an interesting approach in showcasing how people deal with tough times. And in the finale, regardless of how it decides to conclude, “Stronger” still has the quality of being an inspiring journey.
Reviewed by Cheryl Bracknall
Festival Film Rating: ★★★★
Book your tickets to see Stronger HERE