Review: Stronger

is not completely convinced by David Gordon Green’s true-life tale of adversity

Image: Lionsgate

6/10

Director: David Gordon Green

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson

Length: 1hr 59m

Rating: 15

Stronger is the story of Jeff Bauman: a man who became a double-amputee after the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013. Far from a story of how these events occurred, Stronger focusses heavily on the struggle of Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his loved ones after he loses his legs.

Image: Lionsgate

Gyllenhaal, Maslany and Richardson are outstanding. Their conversations ooze realism and emotion which give what is a fairly conventional plot arc an exceptional edge. Additional props should be paid to the way that Gyllenhaal portrays the heart-wrenching invisibility of Bauman’s true struggle after he returns from the hospital. These elements, combined with the contrapuntal hilarity which inhabits moments of the dialogue, give Stronger an edge over other films which tread the “triumph against tragedy” rope.

Further to the exceptional acting and writing, the camera-work is subtly brilliant; fine,
ingenious shots really add to the emotional resonance of this story and bolster what is
already a significant departure for others in this sub-genre.

Unfortunately, the nuanced change in the plot is not far enough away from the conventions of this tired genre that it can be considered wholly innovative, but it does lay the groundwork for future films to build upon. The missed opportunity of this job half-done is compounded in a rudimentarily conventional “happy” ending that undoes a lot of the good work that the film does earlier.

Stronger is a good film and worth your ticket price but may still leave a sour taste.

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