Last year, we were given “Patriots Day,” the riveting drama about the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. That movie made my best films of the year list, although it’s wasn’t the hit it should have been.
This year, we are given “Stronger,” which focuses on how Jeff Bauman lost both his legs during the attacks, and was able to identify Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the bombers. In the meantime, Jeff struggles to get back on his feet, and during his rehabilitation, he is given prosthetic legs.
Jake Gyllenhaal gives a powerful and emotional performance as Jeff. The movie, directed by David Gordon Green, shows how having no legs can be Hell. His mother (Miranda Richardson) babies him, while his girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany), who ran in the marathon, takes care of him, and their love story regains, following a few break-ups.
The scenes that really made me cry are when Gyllenhaal is able to express Jeff’s emotions, like when he argues with his girlfriend about being there for her, when the bombs went off. Another is when his rescuer Carlos Arredondo (Carlos Sanz) talks to him about how he lost his sons, and how he is glad to help him out. And the supporting performances from Maslany and Richardson both shine.
There are times when certain ounces of dialogue overshadow my observation of the film. Other than that, “Stronger” packs an emotional punch.