StrongerLondon Film Festival 2017
5th October 2017 6.15pm at Picturehouse Central
6th October 2017 2.15pm at Odeon Leicester Square
8th October 2017 8.45pm at Vue West End
On the day of the 117th annual Boston Marathon at 2.49pm, two bombs were detonated a few hundred yards from the finishing line. In total, the statistical devastation the blasts left behind were six fatalities including the bomber, and 280 injuries. The numbers of those affected non-physically, however, is uncountable. Stronger follows the journey of Jeff Bauman, a Boston man who suffered at the hands of the attackers, losing both of his legs. In a devastating roller coaster of emotions, the movie tells Jeff’s story from before and after the bombings, and scrupulously uncovers how the intrigue and deception from outer sources can detract from the reality of a victim’s circumstances.
Stronger opens with the introduction of Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal), a Costco employee with charm and charisma. In an attempt to have a “fourth shot” with his ex-girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany), Jeff aids her in collecting money for her chosen charity in preparation for her attempt at the Boston Marathon. He promises to be there at the finish to cheer her on, but the unexpected attack would change the course of their lives forever. Awakening in a hospital bed, Jeff finds that life will never be the same again, and along with Erin, his family and his friends, he must adapt to his new, unwelcomed circumstances.
The film itself addresses several issue. Rather than singularly tackling the obvious trauma Jeff Bauman would have experienced after the marathon, director David Gordon Green makes a number of statements that directly suggest that the post terror attack message that is usually embraced is worthless and merely empty phrases. After the attacks, the “Boston Strong” saying almost becomes a catchphrase that haunts victims such as Jeff. People may think that they are helping and that the terrorists are not “winning”, all the while the victims are suffering more than others can comprehend. Jake Gyllenhaal puts in a stellar performance as the protagonist, perfectly depicting the struggles of an amputee. There is a sincere level of belief behind Gyllenhaal’s wide-eyed Jeff that the world is deceiving itself, and in the process abandoning genuine support and sympathy for someone in his position.
Behind Gyllenhaal’s performance is a superbly crafted script adapted by John Pollono from Bauman’s memoirs. Throughout the entire movie there is a detraction from reality from the media and those drawn in by it, and Pollono presents an in depth case study as to how they distort the images created in the aftermath of terror attacks, leaving the victims themselves drowning in their own traumatic experiences.
A personal feel is given to the film through the way it is shot. Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt uses a series of close-ups on the cast in a majority of the shots, giving intense focus on the perspectives and emotions of each character, even if the moment is gory or nauseating. An emotional journey through which no one wishes to tread, Stronger is a piece that studies not only the aftermath that terror has on communities, family’s and cities, but offers an inside examination of what we don’t see. How do these families manage behind closed doors? Vigils and catchy phrases can only provide so much comfort.
Stronger is released nationwide on 8th December 2017.
Watch the trailer for Stronger here: