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'Stronger' TIFF 2017 Review: Overcoming adversity, on one's own terms

September 8, 2017Justin Waldman

David Gordon Green’s latest is the story of what happened after terrorism struck the 2013 Boston Marathon. But instead of focusing on the terrorists and the chase by law enforcement, Green takes on the story of a man who, against all odds, beat the terrorists on his own terms.

Stronger tells the true story of Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal), a survivor of the bombing who lost both his legs in the aftermath. But while Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Bauman comes off as genuine, it is disheartening. Bauman comes off as someone whose life has clearly been altered, but who cannot get past the tragedy and try to make the most out of his life. His relationship with his on again, off again girlfriend, Eve (Tatiana Maslany), is pushed to its limits as she continually tries to do her best, despite his resentment that his life changed because he “showed up” for her.

The film brings some undeniably strong performances from both Gyllenhaal and Maslany, the latter of whom puts more than one hundred percent into the performance. But while Stronger does carry a powerful and important message, it's unfortunate that the attitude of the subject takes away from the film as a whole.

Stronger is receiving its world premiere as part of TIFF 2017's Gala Presentations programme. Its runtime is 1 hr. 59 min.

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