Directed by: David Gordon Green
Written by: John Pollono
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Clancy Brown
Runtime: 119 min
David Gordon Green brings the real events of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing to the movie screen.
Also based on the book written by the main character of this film, Jeff Bauman's (Jake Gyllenhaal) inspirational and heroic life is narrated through an emotional and heartfelt screenplay.
I didn't quite remember the real-life story depicted in this movie before going to the theater, so I did the necessary research in order to at least, understand what the film really was about. Usually, I always try to avoid trailers or any other kind of spoilers, but for movies based on real-life events, I go the other way around. I try to know as much as possible so I can compare the film's narrative with what actually happened.
Since the real Jeff Bauman also helped in the making of this movie, I was never really worried that the film might deliver a different perspective on the reality. David Gordon Green does an excellent job conveying the story by escaping the genre's typical style of storytelling (JohnPollono's writing is exceptional) and by achieving an adequate pacing, allowing the plot to flow unwaveringly.
The production team provides a fantastic environment with practical settings, delivering a realistic feel that not every movie in this genre is able to brag about. As incredible as the production and direction of this film are, the standout is undoubtedly the cast. Miranda Richardson (Patty Bauman) is the actress that shines through the rest of the supporting cast, with a very compelling performance, but the real stars are Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany (Erin Hurley).
To this day, Gyllenhaal is still not an Academy Award-winning actor. How? I have no idea. He has been delivering unbelievable performances for years (Nocturnal Animals, Nightcrawler, Enemy, Prisoners ...) and he keeps being left out of the elite of Hollywood's actors, for some unknown reasons. I have already given up on the eventuality of him winning an Oscar, so I am not even going to ask for one now.
Jokes aside, his portrayal of Jeff Bauman is very powerful, heartfelt and most important of all, genuine. I am not going to place this performance up there with his best, but it is still a superb display. He never seems to be forcing anything, every expression and every move that he does looks wonderfully natural. I love the sense of authenticity that he transmits to the audience and that is a very rare characteristic that most actors wish they had.
From what I read of the real Jeff Bauman, I think Jake's script really depicts what he is like and what he went through, it never deviates from its purpose. In addition to this, the makeup and hairstyling crew do an impressive job by subtly transforming Gyllenhaal's appearance causing him to look identical to Bauman.
Tatiana Maslany is considered to be one of the best actresses on TV due to her amazing performances in Orphan Black, but she still had to prove herself on the big screen. Stronger is her solid evidence that she is indeed an astonishing actress. She is able to be as great as Gyllenhaal, she has so many touching yet powerful moments and she shares a scene with her counterpart that completely floored me. An awesome display that is going to unquestionably make her name be heard on the higher ground.
Her character, Erin, also helps Maslany's portrayal by being a very compelling character. When a person goes through something tragic that changes his/her life, everyone immediately assumes that it is only his/her life that is altered. However, the reality of a situation like that affects a whole other bunch of people that now have to adjust their own lives in order to help the one that is injured. Erin is that person and she instantly connects with the audience, making us care for her as much as Jeff.
I love that the movie did not shy away from showing how hard the recovery time of Jeff is. It is painful, depressing, unpleasant and even disgusting at some points. Not only his life but the ones surrounding him as well or even more. However, I did not need to watch some nauseous scenes to understand the movie's objective and David Gordon Green pushed it a little too far.
Even though the film emotionally affected me (especially in the third act), it still falls into some genre's cliches that I guess it can't avoid. The story is pretty much what it is and there is nothing to pull you in an extra bit more, so for some periods, it gets a bit too slow.
All in all, Stronger is a fantastic movie based on true events. David Gordon Green brilliantly directs this film, with exceptional storytelling and an adequate pacing, even if for some moments it is too slow. John Pollono's screenplay is beautifully written and it is emotionally and powerfully executed by Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany. Two amazing performances from two fabulous actors. Some genre's cliches don't bring the movie down that much and it ends up being a truly inspirational and captivating story throughout the whole runtime.