David Gordon Green (director)
98 minutes (length)
31 March 2018 (released)
31 March 2018
Director David Gordon Green should and most probably would, have been the person to lead Jake Gyllenhaal to a best actor Oscar. It seems written in the very DNA of the film Stronger. A story about a young man called Jeff Bauman. A fit and healthy 26 year old young man. He was wounded in the Boston bombings and lost both his legs. This sunk him deep into depression but he fought hard to rebuild his life. He learnt to walk again and love again. He came back from this to launch the Boston Strong campaign. He fell in love and had a beautiful child.
This all reads like the perfect concoction of Oscar worthy material (Disability, personal development and the human spirit), audience friendly box office (American hero, true story) and fanciable film (All of the previous). However when you get down to the finished article, you have a film with an exceptional lead performances from Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany. He does so much to imbibe the role with a sense of truth. She gives to him and never steals. You feel his pain because he registers it. You see her frustration as he is distant. You feel his frustration because he enhances it without excess. You feel her love because she draw it out. You empathise with his isolation and PTSD because he unpacks it and she holds it up. Its all Gyllenhaal channelling these perfectly and Maslany playing to that. He adds the gentle, tender traits of a nice guy and she an emotional vulnerable woman. With the awful reality of what is happening to them as they are in a position like this.
Then you have the rest. The others act all over the register. They are mostly totally loathsome in every scene. Harsh, irrational and irritating. The worst is Clancy Brown. A very fine actor not given the cues and I believe, the correct direction. He is abusive and abrasive, then becomes defensive. It is odd to see such a fine actor, treated like this. Miranda Richardson is another great actress. Who ends up being all shades of inconsistent. This is the fault in my opinion of director Green. He knows action and comedy but I feel is uncertain in films where you must mix both melodrama and the human condition. He confuses dark subtlety for excessive jerks of emotion. It is a shame because that central performance is a show stopper. Under another director, this film would have swept up the awards.
STRONGER is available to own on Digital Download from 2nd April and DVD & Blu-ray from 9th April.