A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who's an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children's imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.
A veteran tracker with the Fish and Wildlife Service helps to investigate the murder of a young Native American woman, and uses the case as a means of seeking redemption for an earlier act of irresponsibility which ended in tragedy.
When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman's journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.
It's unfair to compare Stronger to Patriots Day, since they are entirely different features, but they will inevitably be pitted against each other in terms of quality. Luckily, both films are fantastic and present two completely different sides of the story, therefore both are worthy of being made. I was certainly moved to tears more than once in Patriots Day, but there's something truly special about Stronger. Quiet but powerful, Stronger keeps its focus on one unbelievable story without forgetting the importance of everyone banning together in Boston following the terrorist attack at the 2013 marathon.
It all starts with Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany's chemistry together as Jeff Bauman and Erin Hurley, a couple severely impacted by the bombing. Jeff, learning how to walk again after having his legs blown off, became a symbol of hope for the city of Boston, and quite frankly still is. Where Patriots Day focused solely on the bombing and bombers, Stronger keeps its focus on what an event like this can do to an already trying relationship. Their relationship is the heart and soul of the film, and Maslany and Gyllenhaal do a phenomenal job of making their chemistry feel real and grounded with earned emotion. I can't tell you how many times I felt overwhelmed with emotion just watching these actors work through their scenes together.
The entire film is grounded with that emotion, though. And several performances are worthy of Oscar nominations. I personally think Gyllenhaal and Maslany should be locks, but Miranda Richardson made a strong case for the supporting category playing Bauman's mother, Patty. These actors were the sole reason that I feel Stronger transcended the typical bio-drama in every sense. I love the quiet sense of dramatic weight that Stronger had. It doesn't show a ton of blood or trauma from the bombing, nor do we get extended close-ups of Gyllenhaal's loss of legs. Instead, director David Gordon Green ops to have his actors give the audience plenty of emotion through their words and facial expressions.
Stronger is a remarkably moving experience. It's really a personal romance that transcends into something that makes a whole generation inspired. Watch out for this one, it will be a sleeper pick come Oscar season, hopefully.
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