In 2008, rookie journalist Jay Bahadur forms a half-baked plan to embed himself among the pirates of Somalia. He ultimately succeeds in providing the first close-up look into who these men ... See full summary »
bares its heart and is both exceptional in its rending of its heart and its humor.
One of the pleasantries of frequenting movies in the theater : when you go in maybe expecting a decent Gyllenhall performance in what will probably be another sappy true life story and.... Its one of the best faakkin movies of the year (as a Bostonian would say)! David Gordon Green exceeds any expectations by pulling no punches, but at the same time crafting a tender and difficult love story (this could probably be on a double bill with the Big Sick, kind of the reverse side of that maybe). Also Tatiana Maslany shows why she will be around for a while (one hopes) post Orphan Black, and Clancy Brown reminds us why hes still a national treasure in about ten minutes of screen time (as Jeff Bauman's father).
It's raw, it doesn't pull away, but the filmmaking has a perfect kind of dramatic (and at times surprisingly comedy) touch that never goes too far, never draws out tears like a manipulative bastard. It's wonderful in that encouraging sense that while Bauman helped to ultimately inspire those simply by, you know, not just not dying but that he didn't give up, this director, who might be unique among his peers as a kind of art-house journeyman if that makes sense, crafts another film loaded to the brim with deeply emotional performances that resonate because of Gyllenhall but also everyone else around him. This is a film rich with an atmosphere that is that Boston in certain movies (The Fighter is another) where it feels like you're there.
Stronger is a case of a filmmaker and cast and entire production going beyond the lines of the usual by taking it down to the level of the basic, and yet it has and wrestles with truly existential problems: if one is still alive, perhaps by a little luck but also from the help of someone else, how do you cope with everyone calling you a hero when you feel like anything but? In other words, it shirks at phoniness, and carries the spirit of what I imagine is Bauman himself. Well well done!
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