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Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jeff Bauman, the man who was standing next to one of the bombs that went off at the Boston Marathon in 2009, resulting in the loss of both legs. The picture of him being lifted to the ambulance became iconic for “Boston Strong” after the bombing. Tatiana Maslany plays his on-again off-again girlfriend Erin, who cares for him during his recovery and who is equivocal about his not being reliable but also rather disliked by Bauman’s mother. Gyllenhaal does an outstanding job of portraying a young man who dealing with PTSD, being considered a hero when he does not see himself as one, and a family who is loyal but also expects him to rise to his hero status. Equally strong is Maslany who wants to help him but whose patience is tested to the breaking point. I thought this was one of the better biopics I have seen on similar topics; David Gordon Green is back in prime form; he has a way of bringing a striking realism and honesty to his characters in every scene, both in the dialog and the way he handles the camera angles. His close-ups of Gyllenhaal and Maslany showcase the outstanding performances by both. Big thumbs up for a film that is expertly acted by the leads and the side characters, is and illuminates the post-recovery challenges for those who survive similar incidents; it is a film about survival. It also reinforces my belief that Gyllenhaal can just absorb himself into a role and play anyone. This is the kind of David Gordon Green film that I really like. Bravo!

About Gary Burkholder

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