Based on the best-selling memoir by Jeff Bauman, this movie tells the story of the 28-year-old chicken roaster, who lost both legs during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and then went on to become a symbol of Boston Strong.
Jake Gyllenhaal delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as the conflicted, often angry, young man, who was not ready to be anyone’s hero. His life and that of Erin Hurley, his on-again/off-again girlfriend, brilliantly played by Tatiana Maslany, were permanently changed by the horrific events of that April day.
While Jeff struggles with pain, Erin struggles with guilt as she tries to sort out her true feelings. Just how much did she owe an ex-boyfriend who had failed to keep his promises? And could she overlook the fact that the only time he did show up was at the marathon to cheer her on to victory?
Jeff’s family and friends, especially his mother Patty (Miranda Richardson), provide much of the dark humor as they grapple with the aftermath of the accident and amputation. I found myself cringing each time Jeff fell or hit his head. In most cases, family and friends were nearby but otherwise occupied.
Director David Gordon Green chose not to sugar-coat any of Jeff’s challenges. Everyday activities—getting out of bed, using the bathroom, bathing—demonstrate the extent of Jeff’s limitations and pain. It wasn’t easy to watch Jeff move without legs and later struggle with artificial limbs. The special effects are impressive: Jake Gyllenhaal actually looks like he has no legs.
Green effectively uses flashbacks to provide glimpses into Jeff’s tortured state of mind. Raw scenes of the bombing and Jeff’s post-traumatic stress episodes remind us of the seriousness of the injuries. The slow but gradual emotional recovery provides several tear-jerking moments. My favorite scene–Sitting in his wheelchair, Jeff pitches a perfect first ball in a Red Sox game.
A must-see film!