The film "Stronger" is more than just a feel good true story, it’s a first hand perspective of what someone goes through when suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Jake Gyllenhaal does an amazing job in taking on the role of Jeff Bauman who tragically lost both of his legs during the Boston Marathon bombings.
Director David Gordon Green and screenwriter John Pollono did an amazing job in transitioning this true story of a man's personal struggles into a film. "Stronger" grips the audience through Jeff’s personal struggle by forcing viewers to feel his pain.
After the accident, Jeff is in such high spirits until he starts to hit a wall and fall into darkness when the realization hits him that he may never walk again. He turns to alcohol as a way to cope with his pain and becomes a drunken mess throughout the film.
In several scenes throughout the film the audience sees Jeff curled up inside his bathtub, as that is his form of escaping reality. Throughout the film Jeff is congratulated and viewed as not only a hero to Bostonians but also to the entire country, and he becomes a symbol of “Boston Strong.” He questions why people associate him with the term and view him as a symbol when he doesn’t view himself as a hero and shies away from the spotlight.
Tatiana Maslany plays Erin Hurley, Jeff’s on and off girlfriend. Maslany does a terrific job in playing Erin, as she in a way is viewed as Jeff’s lifeline. Everyone including his whole family wants the best for Jeff and tries to encourage him to make improvements, but no one really asks Jeff how he’s feeling about all this. Erin tries to help him while giving up her life in the process. One of the most powerful scenes of the film is when Erin gets into a huge argument with Jeff while he’s intoxicated. What makes this scene powerful is the change viewers see in Jeff afterward. He finally accepts help and is more driven to better his life. Jeff now understands that he was a victim of a horrible tragedy but that won’t stop him from becoming a better man.
Some of the shots of the film were exceptional, especially when Jeff is attempting to walk with his two prosthetic legs. Audiences can see the struggle people go through in physical therapy. Some scenes however were a bit over the top; for example, while intoxicated, Jeff and two of his friends decide to take the wheel and have one of his buddies press the pedals. Police officers pulled them over and instead of arresting or giving him a ticket, they asked Jeff for a photo. I wish the film also showed more of Jeff in rehab as he begins to take it more seriously. It would have also been great to see him getting closer to Carlos Arredondo, the man who helped get Jeff onto a stretcher and into the hospital.
Stronger is not to be mistaken as a heroic film; instead, it’s an inspirational film that will leave moviegoers in tears.