Film Review: Stronger (15)

SURVIVORS: Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany in Stronger.
SURVIVORS: Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany in Stronger.
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On April 15 2013, hundreds of lives were irrevocably altered in Boston when two homemade explosives detonated close to the finish line of the city’s marathon.

Stronger relives the attack from the perspective of Boston native Jeff Bauman, who was a well-wisher in the crowd and lost both of his legs in the blast.

Adapted from Bauman’s memoir, this uplifting drama chronicles events before and after the race, capturing the unbearable toll on Jeff and the people around him.

Jake Gyllenhaal delivers an Oscar-worthy performance, bristling with raw emotion, as the survivor, who became a symbol of Boston Strong – the manifestation of a city’s unity in the face of barbarism.It’s a muscular and harrowing portrayal that captures every strained sinew of Jeff’s return to the land of the bruised but living. Stronger is anchored by Gyllenhaal’s stellar theatrics and strong support from Tatiana Maslany as his girlfriend Erin and Miranda Richardson as his mother Patty who must fight – sometimes each other – to patch together Jeff’s splintered soul.

Director David Gordon Green withholds the sickening horror of the bombing, in flashback, until the second half of the film, preferring to focus on hope in the darkness – and he earns our tears without resorting to emotional manipulation.His film stands tall and proud like the defiant everyman at its centre.

On general release