Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany's Screen Team-Up Makes 'Stronger' a Must-Watch

There are two reasons why I watched Stronger: Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany – two extremely talented actors I like.  I’ve liked every single film I’ve seen Gyllenhaal in recent years, and he has always been reliable in delivering compelling performances.  One of the worst Oscar snubs ever was when Jake wasn’t even nominated for his work in Nightcrawler (in my opinion, his performance in that movie was superior to winner Eddie Redmayne’s in The Theory of Everything; Nightcrawler is also a much better film).  Meanwhile, I’ve adored Tatiana Maslany ever since I encountered Orphan Black, in which she showcased her jaw-dropping versatility by portraying the different LEDA clones distinctively and convincingly.  It’s a pity that she only won an Emmy once during the show’s five-season run.

Anyway, Stronger is a biopic about Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman (I thought at first that he was one of the victims featured in Patriots Day, another film about the Boston bombings that was released earlier this year, but that turned out to be not the case after I looked it up).  The film mostly explores the physical, emotional, and psychological hardships that Bauman had gone through in the aftermath of the tragedy that took his legs and left him in need of intensive rehabilitation as well as a celebrity status that he was perplexed of, and how the entire ordeal led him to strive to become a better person.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jeff Bauman, while Tatiana Maslany plays his on-and-off girlfriend, Erin Hurley.  Their characters’ relationship is an important aspect of this film’s emotional core, along with their individual struggles during Jeff’s strenuous journey to recovery and self-discovery.  And, as expected, the two delivered amazing performances to bring this about.  Since seeing these two work exceptionally well together on screen is primarily what I came to watch this film for in the first place, I was greatly satisfied.

As far as inspirational drama films go, Stronger is a stand-out.  I’m not sure if it’s mostly due to a faithful depiction of the true-to-life source material or to superb writing and direction that framed it in such a poignant, moving perspective.  Either way, the film leaves a resounding emotional impact, and it does so without having the impression of being cheesy or manipulative.

No comments: