That Jake Gyllenhaal, he making me cry
Stronger is a film directed by David Gordon Green and it’s about Jeff Bauman, a brave man who lost his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing, and this movie tells that heroic tale. It’s a movie about love, loss, compassion and most importantly family.
Imagine having your entire life change in a blink of an eye. This movie and this story are both very inspirational, and at certain moments throughout the movie you feel for these people. Jeff Bauman just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and in a heartbeat his whole entire world changed. Not only did he suffer a devastating loss, losing both of his legs, he became a figure of hope, and a hero to the city of Boston. He was just a normal guy who worked at Costco and had relationship issues, that no one knew about, now he is this national figure and is being called a hero and Jeff can’t really comprehend why. On top of all of that, he is trying to learn how to live this new life of his, and adjust to the difficulties that come with his tragic loss. Jeff is dealing with so much, and I couldn’t really stomach thinking about being in this position and how strong you must be to deal with all of this. On top of all of this comes the fact, that not only is your life change forever, but those around you too. He’s a Boston guy, that’s one thing I want to give tremendous credit to Gyllenhaal for, his Boston accent is top notch. That can make or break a performance and a movie for me, and if you can say “GO SOX!” in a perfect Boston accent, then you’re doing it right. I’ll get into his remarkable performance later. So Jeff’s family is a Boston blue collared family, they love to drink and aren’t all that well educated. So when this happens to Jeff, they don’t know how to process it. His mother Patty (Miranda Richardson) who is just fantastic in this role, is a drunk. She can barley even take care of herself, let alone her son when he needs her the most, and on top of that, her living arrangements are not suited for Jeff’s needs. There’s a scene when Jeff finally gets released from the hospital and when they are wheeling him out, the expression on Gyllenhaal’s face is just breathtaking. Jeff doesn’t want any of this attention, it’s making him so uncomfortable, and the way Jake expresses that just using his eyes and facial movements, is what acting is all about. You could really feel his performance in this. So when they go back to his mothers apartment, its up two flights of stairs and her place is a dump. Imagine having the worst day of your life, to only come home to a horrible living experience, that would dawn on me too. He’s trying so hard to please his family, meanwhile he’s dealing with severe PTSD, and when he gets invited to wave the flag at a Boston Bruins game, he wants no part in that. When the crowd starts making a tremendous amount of noise, he retreats back to the day of the bombing and really has a meltdown in an elevator which is a very powerful scene with his girlfriend Erin. Erin played by Tatiana Maslany is fantastic in this movie. She doesn’t really follow the classic girlfriend cliches throughout the movie. Erin and Jeff were broken up when the bombing occurred, so when it happens, as she puts it “doesn’t know what she’s suppose to do.” You really feel for her, because she gets thrust into this uniquely incredible set of circumstances and she wants to be there for Jeff, but at the beginning it’s really difficult for her. Jeff was always not showing up to things, and being late, so Erin broke up with him. So on the day he does show up, something truly awful happens, and there’s a really gut punching scene where the two of them scream at each about that day. And it was probably the most emotional scene in the movie – for me at least.
The movie as a whole is really good, all the performances are just spot on and the surrounding cast members really feel like they were plucked from the streets of Boston. It just made it seem and feel more authentic and that’s such a great quality in a movie, especially when you’re dealing with a true story. But man, Jake Gyllenhaal once again proves he’s one of the best working actors today. Every year he delivers just a phenomenal performance. Go look at his IMDB, his track record is insane. The only way I can describe his performance in Stronger, is the fact that I really don’t think he was acting at all. I feel like Jake was just feeling every moment and every scene, and it just felt so real and authentic. He was living in the moment for this role, and I think that’s the only way you could go about doing it. It’s so raw, emotional and powerful and just something you would already expect from him at this point, but he really blew me away here. I will be shocked if he isn’t nominated for an Oscar this year. He really deserves it, because along with his performance, there comes the physical aspect of it as well. The effects and the way they make it seem like he doesn’t have legs throughout the movie was mind blowing. They did such a great job, and Jake himself did such a great job at making you believe that he didn’t have two legs. He does so much acting in his facial expressions and just his body language its remarkable and it’s reasons like this why I go see every Jake Gyllenhaal movie. Tatiana plays off Jake so well, she has the whole “angry Boston girlfriend” thing down pat. She has some really tense and emotional scenes with him and she is right there with him. I was really impressed with her performance as a whole and she deserves a lot of credit.
This was one of the more emotional and uplifting movies I have seen in the theatres in a long time. There are moments and scenes in this movie that can really hit home for some people, and it’s just a really inspiring story of a really strong man. I was glad they didn’t have a cliche montage of him training in this movie, and this feels like a real life story, not a movie about something that happened in real life. It kind of shifts the narrative a little bit and I thought that worked really well. Life isn’t a fairy tale all the time, or like you see in the movies and they show that here. Jeff has is issues in recovery, especially when he skips rehab to get hammered, or just wants to be lazy, play video games and not take his medication. There’s one scene at the beginning of the movie that involves his manager from Costco, that was so sad, but happy at the same time. Where his family thinks Jeff is getting fired, and are yelling at this man because they think their son will never be able to work again. And the manager says something, that just gives you all the feels and says “Jeff will always work for us” and his family just goes silent and it’s just a really beautiful moment.
When Jeff finally overcomes his fears and learns to appreciate the fact that he gives people hope and that he is a symbol of what it means to be “Boston Strong” it was just awesome to watch. He understands that he can be a beacon of hope for people, and that he should let people, and more importantly strangers into his life. Jeff says something that kind of sums up a lot of stuff up, he says “I’m a hero for standing there and getting my legs blown off?” Because he’s not a hero for that happening to him, but for what came after that, for helping catch the bombers and for just being the definition of strong.
Check ya later
Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Stronger = 88/100