Released on Digital Download from 2nd April and available on DVD and Blu-ray from 9th April, the David Gordon Green directed Stronger starring Jake Gyllenhaal is released from Lionsgate.
Based on the true story of Jeff Bauman, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, Gyllenhaal plays Bauman from the day prior to the attack to the brutal aftermath of the attack which left him with a double amputation of his legs above the knee; the story follows his journey to learn to walk again and the rekindling of a loving relationship with his on and off again girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany).
Bauman has to overcome many physical as well as emotional obstacles to regain the strength in his upper body to enable him to utilise the prosthetic legs available to him on his insurance plan.
Gordon Green has shot many films of independent spirit and about the outsider, and this kinship to the outsider holds him in good stead as we follow Bauman closely - not holding back on the difficulties Jeff has in his two bedroom flat he shares with his Mum, Patty (Miranda Richardson) from going to the toilet to the stairs up to the flat.
The film is shot through a gritty grey lense with little colour shown, Boston only coming to life during major sporting events and when there are big gatherings of people in a sense of community. When Jeff is away from these large groups and alone with family or Erin, it is a grey lonely world he occupies.
Gyllenhaal does really well with the role bringing steel to the role with his matinee face being put to the test by extreme close-ups deployed by Green, and he has the expressive range to bring gravitas to the moments such as his breakdown in the elevator during a hockey game.
There are some trite moments that scream of patriotism and there is a bigger story to be told about the whole Boston Strong scenario that grew out of the rubble of the bombings, the symbol of the Red Sox winning the World Series that same year; yet it is the quieter stiller moments of this film that will stay with you such as the clash between Erin and Jeff in their car when she shares some good news.
Gyllenhaal seemed to be a front runner for an Oscar nomination but sadly he got lost, partly due to the weight of the film not being strong enough to support his performance. This, however, should not detract from a very workmanlike film that will keep you entertained nonetheless.
Stronger is released on 2nd April on Digital Download from Lionsgate