With the inventive biopic Stronger, David Gordon Green (Snow Angels; Your Highness) continues to expand his repertoire while Jake Gyllenhaal adds another impressive performance to his already glowing resume as Jeff Bauman, the young man who lost both of his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and became an unwitting symbol of hope for a grieving city.
John Pollono’s script takes an atypical look at a well-known tragedy, side-stepping or glossing over obvious scenes and details on which the average viewer needs no refresher and focusing on Jeff’s struggles to accept his new life and public perception as a hero.
Organically building tension as the enormity of the situation settles in and Jeff attempts to establish a new normal with ex-girlfriend Erin Hurley (Tatiana Maslany), there’s a fair amount of tinny dialogue from bit players who make Jeff uncomfortable with their views on what happened to him and its relation to their lives.
However, no such falseness is present among the central characters, including Miranda Richardson as Jeff’s stubborn mother Patty, nor in Jeff’s flashbacks to the tragedy, which arise naturally and with the added benefit of having spent plentiful time with the man suffering them.
Arriving just shy of a year after the broader though no less intense Patriots Day, Stronger would make for an intriguing double feature with the Peter Berg film, though is sufficiently powerful on its own.
Grade: B-plus. Rated R. Now playing at Carolina Cinemark
(Photo: Roadside Attractions)