In 2013 Boston, Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) works as a chicken chef at CostCo supermarket. Living with his caustic mother (Miranda Richardson), he wants nothing than to win back his ex-girlfriend Erin Hurley (Tatiana Maslany). Erin, a keen amateur runner is raising charity donations to run in the Boston Marathon. Perennially late for everything, Jeff promises to be there on the finishing line for Erin. However tragedy and fate later collide, reshaping their lives in ways that none of them could have ever imagined.
A deep, indelible scar on the American psyche, the 2013 Boston Marathon is shown here through the eyes of local Jeff Bauman and his extended family….
A deep, indelible scar on the American psyche, the 2013 Boston Marathon is shown here through the eyes of local Jeff Bauman and his extended family. Cornered by a drunken mother (in another superb performance from Miranda Richardson) and his on-off girlfriend (played by the equally impressive Tatiana Maslany), Jake Gyllenhaal bounces off the demands of a bewildered family that can only articulate their powerlessness in Jeff’s surprise elevation to national hero.
Struggling with his own personal failings and becoming a lighting rod for national pride and communal hurt, Jeff’s pressures are convincingly played out in a real-life story that does its best to avoid any unnecessary flag-waving. However when the patriotic overtones do come, and come they do, they can initially feel a little jarring and momentarily distance you from the tragedy onscreen. That said, in hindsight this is probably as it should be, as it what does do is amplifies Jeff’s disconnection, caught between the twin rocks of tragedy and infamy.
By its end, ‘Stronger’ ultimately becomes a film about two identities: one personal and one national and how they do not necessarily mesh when caught between suffering and blame. Shot in visual style that leans towards roughness than polished Hollywood hues, the special effects here are chillingly realistic and suitably underscore the urbane reality of a family trying to cope after a crisis. Caught in the crosshairs of the media and a nation’s conscience, ‘Stronger’ is refreshingly humane perspective on a national tragedy.