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"Stronger" at The Flying Monkey

By Lindsey DeRoche; A&E Editor
On October 21, 2017

Most people remember exactly where they were, and what they were doing, when they heard about a national, or even international, tragedy during their lifetime. I remember being a junior in high school, sitting in my family’s mudroom (a New Hampshire term, for sure), logging into my Facebook account after school, and viewing my news feed, which was littered with news about the Boston Marathon bombings that had taken place only one state over that morning.

I was nowhere near where 28-year-old Boston native Jeff Bauman had been--at the Boston Marathon finish line. He had been cheering on his on-and-off-again girlfriend, who was a participant in the race. Bauman lost both of his legs to one of the explosions, but lived, and even became a prominent face of the “Boston Strong” movement that swept the nation in the wake of the bombings. Despite the odds, Bauman survived, persisted, and ended up co-writing “Stronger,” his memoir, years later.

On September 22, a movie adaptation of “Stronger” (titled with the same name) was released, with acclaimed actor Jake Gyllenhaal starring as Bauman. I had heard of the film’s upcoming fall release over the summer, and was eager to see it. Unfortunately, to my surprise, I found that movie theatres in the area were not showing the film.

However, on October 17, I found a local venue that was showing “Stronger”--The Flying Monkey on South Main Street. I had vowed to see it, and I was finally able to.

Directed by David Gordon Green, the film swiftly set up the plot; the bombing scene was not far into the film. But, first, the audience sees what life was like for Bauman just a day before the bombings. He was a normal Boston resident in his late twenties, working in the deli at Costco, and enjoying beers with his friends and family at a local bar.

Following Bauman’s true story, the film shows him arrive to the Boston Marathon in order to cheer for the girlfriend he is trying to win back, who has just broken up with him again, and is running for Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

In an intriguing cinematic decision, when the first bomb goes off, we do not see the event from Jeff’s perspective, but his girlfriend's. This choice vividly illustrates the sheer bedlam of such an attack, as she does not know what the large “boom” towards the finish line actually is. We are in the dark, just like the rest of the runners.

Following the bombings, "Stronger" chronicles Bauman’s fight to survive while in the hospital, and also how he helped the FBI identify one of the bombers (whom he had seen before the first explosion), that was still at large, while he was barely out of his coma.

The film shifts to life back at home, as Bauman adjusts to his new existence without legs, and with the heavy burden of fresh trauma. He and his girlfriend reunite, and she becomes his main source of emotional support during this time period. “Stronger” vividly depicts not only the arduous physical struggles that Bauman faced with his new life chapter ahead of him, but the psychological battles he fought, as well.

PTSD, depression and other natural, yet devastating products of such a trauma are illustrated to a point where you cannot help but take on the pain of Bauman’s character. While dealing with potent emotion and an uphill struggle, I found myself forced to tears on at least three different occasions.

Gyllenhaal’s performance is not only believable, but phenomenal. He portrays a life derailed by a senseless act of violence with what was obviously intense dedication and reverence for the undertaking.

Through all the pain and suffering, “Stronger” shows you how Bauman lived up to the name of his memoir, and was stronger than all of the discomfort, pain, emotional trauma and angering inconvenience.

“Stronger” is a film that tugs on the heartstrings and makes you squirm with the characters. But, it is also quite the “feel good” film in the long run, showing determination and strength that can conquer over hate and adversity.

The Flying Monkey will continue to show “Stronger" through Thursday, October 26, at 6:30 p.m. each night.

I urge you to see this inspiring film, which I feel is important for everyone to see. I also urge you to see it at The Flying Monkey, with its local appeal, friendly staff and showing of a film that is hard to find at other local theatres!

To see other films and events coming up at The Flying Monkey, visit http://www.flyingmonkeynh.com/default.aspx

 

 

 

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