Jake Gyllenhaal could well win the Best Actor Oscar for his heartfelt portrayal of Jeff Bauman, Jr. who lost both his legs in the bombing of the 2013 marathon. Bauman was waiting at the finish line to cheer on his girlfriend Erin Hurley (Tatiana Maslany). Despite his life-threatening injuries, this 27-year-old Boston native was a key eyewitness whose help proved invaluable in the hunt for the bombers.
The film then follows them 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.
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.
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. As this feature from Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions opens on Sept. 22, expect it to unspool first at the film festivals in Telluride, Venice and/or Toronto.