See Stronger, Be Better, Forget ‘It’

Hellooooooo, is anyone (deep) out there? For God’s sakes, according to the trailers and the number one film at the box office “It”, we are a country of violent dunces. Do me a favor, go see Stronger and redeem our collective reputation.

Funny thing is, before the violent 8 trailers, my companion and I realized we were both feeling trepidation about seeing the movie. Here I thought my dear friend Dave wanted to see it and I was worried it would be too schmaltzy for me. Meanwhile my friend thought I really wanted to see it and was also somewhat reluctant. Since it was my idea, a lump was in my throat at the film’s start that I would be looking like the idiot and that had wasted our hard earned doe. Fortunately, we both loved it, he-man and tom boy alike.

Stronger is not just a man gets injured, man learns to walk again. It’s literally a biopic of a real human being, with real failings (arrested development, toxic family, menial job). It’s also not a jingoistic let’s nail the terrorists film and in fact, actually looks at all angles of military service. If I was again a woman in my mid thirties, wishing my then husband would mature beyond lothario, this might be the movie that could cause such an epiphany (though realistically, probably not since Wonder Boys didn’t do the trick).

But I digress…can we give Jake Gyllenhaal a definite nomination? I mean, the guy works his a@$ off. The last film I saw him in was South Paw, a mediocre film, but JG’s six pack of steel deserved some kind of accolade. Before that, in a movie I loved, Nightcrawler, he became a shriveled violence-porn addict. In Stronger, he pulls off a skinny Mass-hole, complete with the accent and through some kind of acting and cosmetic magic, almost seems to possess a different face.

Equally strong is Tatiana Maslany who portrays Jake’s girlfriend. Tatiana should also get an Oscar nom as you can’t fake the mixture of emotion of someone conflicted over duty vs. love, and stay in hopes of someone maturing vs. leave and start over. Fantastic!

Likewise, Miranda Richardson, is tremendous as Jake’s alcoholic, narcissistic mother. I mean God Bless her that can’t be fun to play such an ignorant attention whore, but she owns that role. In fact, she’s so good, I was moved to library request an Oscar nominated performance she did in Tom and Viv.

Negatives? I can’t really think of any. I didn’t even mind hiding my eyes several times due to my oversensitivity to violence and people on the precipice of injury.

Stronger is more than meets the eye. The fact that two people with vastly different tastes loved it speaks highly of the screenplay (John Pollono/Jeff Bauman), director (David Gordon Green of Pineapple Express-woo woo!) and actors.