The Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 has spawned two very different films within a year in Peter Berg's Patriots Day and David Gordon Green's Stronger. The former is a film about the manhunt for the two suspects while the latter is a film that focuses on one of the survivors of the attack however, both zone in on the Boston Strong movement that grew as a result of the attack in a similarly deep and affecting manner.

Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a man whose heart is in the right place but he just can't always be relied upon. When he goes to support his ex-girlfriend, Erin (Tatiana Maslany), at the Boston Marathon finish line, he is caught up in the blast, suffering life-changing injuries as a result. Stronger is Jeff Bauman's inspirational true story of how he survived and became a symbol of hope for the city of Boston.
The story behind Jeff Bauman's survival of and recovery from the Boston Marathon bombing  is certainly inspirational however, it's much more complex than I ever thought it would be. I can't begin to understand what it must be like to try and get on with your life after such a monumental injury, Bauman's strength brought to the fore in David Gordon Green's film. 

It's the imperfections of Bauman's character that makes Stronger such an engrossing experience though. A man surrounded by loved ones but often refusing help and behaving erratically towards them gives Stronger such a fascinating focal point, making for uneasy but necessary viewing.

The film is led by yet another outstanding performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, who again showcases his immense talents with such a different performance to what he's done before. It's a raw performance full of emotion and power, becoming one of Gyllenhaal's best in the process. Tatiana Maslany delivers a great supporting performance as Erin, the woman who served as Bauman's strong backbone during his time of anguish, as does Miranda Richardson as Bauman's alcoholic mother. There's no denying though that this film belongs to Jake Gyllenhaal.

Stronger is the telling of an inspirational true story that becomes so much more thanks to the brilliant Jake Gyllenhaal performance at its disposal. The decision to not sugar coat the story is one that only benefits the film and the impact it will have on the audience.

Verdict: ★★★★


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