The Boston marathon. PATRIOT’S DAY saw Mark Wahlberg star in the film that hunted down the terrorists responsible for the bombings. STRONGER, on the other hand, looks at the Boston marathon from the point of view of a victim. And a really bad victim at that – one that has lost both his legs in the middle of the bomb explosion.
To the film’s credit, the film is an adaptation of the memoir by Jeff Bauman, recounting his struggles to adjust after losing his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing. So, it is a true story, rather than one based on true events. But unfortunately the film wallows in self pity.
The film tells the story of Jeff’s tragedy and rebirth.
Runner Erin Hurley (Tatiana Maslany) was still a mile away from the finish line when the bombs went off. Her boyfriend, Jeff (Jake Gyllenhaal), however, was right there. He is rushed into surgery, but his legs must be amputated. The bombing’s immediate aftermath provides Jeff with an unexpected sense of purpose as he had seen one of the terrorists responsible for the blasts. He gives information to the FBI that proves instrumental in their investigation. But this is not seen in detail in the film. So one wonders, whether Jeff really saw the bomber or imagined it. Once that very public drama quietened down, Jeff’s personal drama, a challenge as much for his morale as his body, is begins. With Erin by his side, Jeff slowly recovers, one arduous step at a time.
Green’s film centres on the travails and sufferings of Jeff. But it opts out for cheap shots – like showing the parts where Jeff has trouble in the toilet trying to shit or urinate.
Jeff is shown in the film on the road of self destruction. Erin scarifies her all for him. But he is shown as unrepentant, unhealed by his mother who want him to get all the glory and money for his mishap.
The film shows Jeff’s change in outlook. Unfortunately, this change is shown coming from just one event instead of a gradual progression – the meeting of the Mexican who attended to him during the bombing. Though this might be true, this one event that apparently changed Jeff’s outlook on life seems quite incredible.
Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Malsany and Miranda Richardson (as Jeff’s mother) deliver excellent performances despite the film’s flaws. If the film turned out better, they might be up for acting Oscars.
The film ends, expectedly during the closing credits with shots of the real Jeff and Erin. It is revealed that that the film is based on the book written by Jeff which is not mentioned at all in the film.
One can only wish the film would have been a better one that would show more of the triumph of the human spirit instead of one that showed a man wallowing is self pity.