Jake Gyllenhaal gives an Oscar-worthy performance in in “Stronger” as Jeff Bauman, Jr. , a victim of 2013 Boston marathon bombing who lost both his legs. This Oscar contender opened on Sept. 22 to rave reviews that translated into an impressive score of 96 at Rotten Tomatoes. And Gyllenhall was singled out by many leading critics for his heartfelt portrayal of the the heroic Bauman who was waiting at the finish line to cheer on his girlfriend Erin Hurley (Tatiana Maslany). This one-time Best Supporting Actor Oscar contender (“Brokeback Mountain”) could well reap his first Best Actor Oscar nomination.
Despite his life-threatening injuries, the 27-year-old Boston native was a key eyewitness whose help proved invaluable in the hunt for the bombers. The film then follows him on his long road to recovery, which entailed grueling physical therapy as well as counseling to come to terms with his injuries. Miranda Richardson and Clancy Brown shine as his parents Patty and Jeff Bauman and both could well figure in the featured acting Oscar races.
John Poliono, who has a recurring role on “This Is Us,” adapted Bauman’s memoir of the same name and David Gordon Green (“Our Brand Is Crisis”) directed. By focusing on just one real-life victim of the attack, “Stronger” differentiates itself from last year’s “Patriot’s Day.” That film by Peter Berg starred Mark Wahlberg as a composite character, a police officer who was present at various key moments leading up to and after the bombing.
Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions slotted “Stronger” into a Sept. 22 release, which puts it out ahead of many of the other Oscar contenders. Strong box office should boost its profile, as will a home video release timed to Oscar nominations voting in January.
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