Stronger is a biographical drama directed by David Gordon Green. The film stars Clancy Brown, Miranda Richardson, Tatiana Maslany and Jake Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal plays Jeff Bauman who loses his legs at the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. After this horrific event, Bauman must adapt to his new life with the help of Erin (Tatiana Maslany). Simultaneously, he struggles to cope with PTSD and depression from the terrorist attack he was a victim of.
My Knowledge and Expectation of Stronger
Stronger quickly became one of my most anticipated films to see during award season because of Jake Gyllenhaal. Without a doubt, he is one of my favourite actors working today. He has brought his best to every film that I have seen him in. Moreover, I find it remarkable that he did not receive Oscar nominations for his work in Nightcrawler and Nocturnal Animals.
Because of my adoration for his work, I expected nothing less than a stellar performance by Jake Gyllenhaal. Clearly, the emotional source material he was working with provided a great opportunity for him to showcase his range as an actor. Buzz around Stronger has been high since its premiere at Toronto Film Festival back in September 2017. I hoped that the film would live up to the hype.
My Thoughts on Stronger
Stronger is an emotional film which, at is core, has a powerful central performance by Jake Gyllenhaal. Once again, he proves his talent as an actor and that he is one of the best working today. While likely that, once again, he will probably go unnoticed when it comes to an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, his work in Stronger should not be forgotten.
Aside from an individual standpoint, Jake Gyllenhaal also works well off the performance given by Tatiana Maslany in Stronger. I liked the complexity of the relationship their characters had. It was anything but straightforward when it came to their commitment for one another. Indeed, one scene where Jeff completely loses it in a car with her and they berate each other showcased this. It also showed the ability of Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany as actors when it came to portraying raw emotion.
Stronger Is Never Brash, Crude Or A Cliché
Yet, Jake Gyllenhaal is also great in the more understated moments of his performance. This is very apparent when he showcases the depression and PTSD his character is going through that seem to be ignored by his family. In fact, I would argue that the majority of Stronger is very understated. It is never brash and the film takes its time but it is engaging throughout.
Stronger is never over the top or clichéd either. Certainly, it would be very easy for this story to be told in a less mature way. However, Stronger is very mature which makes the more graphic scenes that much more affecting. Indeed, a scene which brutally depicts the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing is very tough to watch. Moreover, having that scene intertwine with seeing Jeff Bauman at his lowest point of recovery was heart-breaking. He was reliving that traumatic experience in a horrible situation and it was not easy to watch.
Due to the tough, depressing subject matter, I will not be eager to watch Stronger multiple times. However, it is a film you need to see just for the magnificent performance by Jake Gyllenhaal alone. Moreover, the film does showcase the human spirit, especially with its ending which leaves you with a feeling of hope. While I do not feel that Stronger will get a lot of award recognition, it does rank amongst the more emotionally affecting films I have seen in 2017.