Admittedly I'm a big Jake Gyllenhaal fan. He is clearly not an A-List box office draw, but his acting chops are right up there with the best in the business . He carries a darkness in his eyes that enhances his on screen presence. Those same eyes have eyelids that don't open to the same height, which is both distracting and yet more intriguing.
Stronger is one difficult film in that it traces the story of Boston Marathon double amputee Survivor Jeff Bauman. It is a remarkably candid and yes uncomfortable look at his tough Journey. He surrounded by a loving but hard/blue collar family with their own life hiccups. Cursing and drinking help them mask their own issues. This tragedy just becomes another hard chapter for them but also possibly a blessing.
A tried and true Boston family, they all live and die with the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins (interestingly as a sports fan, Boston Celtics hoops team never factored into their lives). Virtually all Bostonians have in their DNA a toughness/resiliency which is present in their sports teams and also in them.
Hence the entire town, bought in and identified with the mantra "Boston Strong" shortly after the bombing as well as "Bauman Strong" once Jeff's story became public.
The movie portrays Jeff Bauman as the poster child for both the town and his family to rebound. Family seemed to insensitive and empathetic to the psychological issues as a result of the life changing bombing in all aspects of his life. His family loved all the VIP treatment he got plus special treatment at the sporting venues and beyond. He could only share with very likable and loyal girl friend but not his family till things erupted. They were fast tracking his multi-level rehabilitation while he needed to go much slower and much more privately.
This is not a comfortable story as his angst is ever-present from the moment the bomb went off. A hero was the last thing he wanted to be and struggled be that hero his family and town wanted him to be.
Difficult but quite well made.