In every tragedy, a hero will often emerge; Stronger characterises a man named Jeff Bauman becoming exactly that in the aftermath of the infamous 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Jake Gyllenhaal portrays Jeff, a Costco employee with little direction in life, who’s trying to win back the heart of his ex-girlfriend, Erin (Tatiana Maslany). In an effort to disprove Erin’s belief that he never turns up for anything, Jeff works his way to the front of the finish line, only to be in the direct path of the terrorist’s bomb – resulting in the amputation of both his legs.
Bauman becomes a key witness for the FBI; his positive identification of the bomber (with whom he crosses paths seconds before the bomb detonates) helps them locate one of the terrorists, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
With this devastating tragedy bringing the couple back together, Erin struggles for acceptance by Jeff’s family as she tries to build a relationship with his demanding, alcoholic mother (Miranda Richardson). While Jeff battles with the emotional and physical trauma, Erin becomes the motivating force behind his gruelling rehabilitation.
Stronger depicts Bauman’s life after the bombing, and portrays his incredible struggle and courage to rebuild his life. It is a film where tragedy inspires strength, courage, and acceptance in the life of an ordinary man, plunged into extraordinary circumstances. Bauman became the face of the tragedy, but it was his determination, humour, and positive attitude that made him an inspiration to many.
Directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express), Gyllenhaal delivers an accurate yet raw, emotional performance that is certainly generating award season buzz and could land him an Oscar nomination. Produced by Gyllenhaal himself, Stronger chronicles the story of an innocent victim who becomes a real-life hero, and is the living embodiment of what is now known as ‘Boston Strong’.
Sabrina Joshi, Hollywood Correspondent