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Oct
13

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“stronger” movie review

Stronger

Stronger is the kind of movie you feel really bad criticizing. I mean, it’s the story of Jeff Bauman, the 28-year-old who lost his legs during the Boston Marathon bombings.

You know it’s supposed to be inspirational — and it is.

You know it’s important to celebrate our heroes — and it does.

You know it should really move you to tears — but it didn’t.

The movie is too long but I think the big problem, for me, was that Bauman’s family is so unlikeable. They’re crude and insulting to each other and they drink till they fall down. This is all supposed to be cute because, after all, this is Boston and this is how they express love for each other. And, hey, they have each other’s backs.

Well, except for his drunk mother who makes him late to his physical therapy appointments and who gets so caught up in her son’s fame, she puts her desires before his needs. If this is true, I can’t imagine what she must think, watching this movie — unless she’s just so happy to see herself on the big screen now.

What I do like about Stronger is that, rather than getting caught up in, Bauman questions his newfound fame. “I’m a hero for standing there and getting my legs blown off?” he asks.

He becomes a symbol to a lot of people, who look at him as the personification of Boston Strong, and he struggles with the pressure of that. Those feelings felt real to me, and Gyllenhaal nails it as an anti-hero who can’t be bothered to show up for his girlfriend at some of the most important moments in her life.

Which brings us to the movie’s real hero: Bauman’s girlfriend, Erin Hurley (Tatiana Maslany). She’s smart and thoughtful and it’s sometimes hard to know what she sees in him. She’s the one who is truly there for him, though — the one who puts up with his shit (and cleans it) until she just can’t anymore. That’s his wake-up call, and luckily for him, she believes in him enough to come back.

Because she believes in him, we do, too.

My favorite scenes were the ones where Bauman reaches some kind of epiphany: when he meets the man who saved his life and learns about his own personal tragedy, and after he throws out the first pitch at a Red Sox and fans come up to him to share their own stories.

The movie is an important reminder that human beings are stronger than we think. If only the movie itself were, too.

Comments

  1. I’m glad you were honest. Movies can do such a disservice to real-life characters and it sounds like this is one of them. The writing, directing and acting all need to be in sync to make a movie meaningful and feel true. Sounds like this missed the mark.

  2. This was one of the movies I really want to see – I like your review of it, and I’ve heard mixed reviews, ultimately, when it’s a true story, I tend to really look at it from what is another’s point of view… the one who lived it.
    Thanks for sharing

  3. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see this movie, and now I think I’ve made up my mind not to. I think I would get annoyed with his family members!

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