Welcome to the House of Crouse. It’s a packed show. Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana, Miranda Richardson and Jeff Bauman, the real life inspiration for “Stronger” swing by to talk about their take on the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013. It’s is not the story of a bomb or the radical politics that saw it planted at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It’s the story of the aftermath and one man’s inspirational recovery. Then “Battle of the Sexes” directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton come by to talk about why Billie Jean King is such an important thread in our cultural fabric. It’s all good stuff, so c’mon in and sit a spell.
A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at Billie Jean King and retired pro Bobby Riggs in “Battle of the Sexes,” Taron Egerton’s stylish spy thriller “Kingsman: the Secret Circle” and the Jake Gyllenhaal real life drama “Stronger.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at about Billie Jean King and retired pro Bobby Riggs in “Battle of the Sexes,” Taron Egerton’s stylish spy thriller “Kingsman: the Secret Circle” and the Jake Gyllenhaal real life drama “Stronger.”
People call Jeff Bauman a hero but it’s not a label he enjoys.
“I don’t like being called a hero,” he says. “In my eyes, there are heroes I look up to, the people who saved my life, the caretakers, my surgeon and my wife, the love of my life. She’s my hero. I lost something but my heroes picked me up.”
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Bauman in Stronger, the story of the man whose life changed the morning of April 15, 2013. Bauman, while waiting at the Boston Marathon finish line for his ex-girlfriend to finish the race, was standing next to one of the Boston Bombers. Gravely injured after the blast he was rescued by a stranger in a cowboy hat and rushed to the hospital where both his legs were amputated above the knees. The tragedy thrust Bauman into the spotlight, making him a reluctant beacon for the Boston Strong movement.
“Through a number of circumstances the movie was hard to get made,” says Gyllenhaal who also produced the film. “Number one, movies like this, stories like this, aren’t being told as much. There is a real balance in this movie of humour and a certain type of depth that I think tonally can confuse people who want something that seems a little simpler.
“I think also, in a lot of ways, when they heard about this story people thought it was too soon or who wants to make a movie out of that event. In truth, the movie is not about the event at all. That’s why I loved it.”
Stronger is not the story of a bomb or the radical politics that saw it planted at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It’s the story of the aftermath and Bauman’s inspirational recovery.
“The thing that is most important to me is that people see this movie,” says Gyllenhaal. “We have always been that movie that has a little of that underdog spirit. It has been a long and pretty incredible journey. I just want people to see it because I think today there are so many hard things happening in the world and Jeff’s story sort of proves to people that they can keep going, that they can take another step. That they can survive that minute or that second or that hour that they don’t think they’ll be able to get through. He is a beacon for that and I want people to see that.”
Bauman says he’s proud of the movie but says watching it for the first time was “sensory overload” as it forced him to relive the worst moment of his life.
“I cried a lot,” he says. “I kind of just went, ‘I want to go home afterward and go to sleep,’ and I did. I went home and went to sleep. The next day things hit me a little bit more. It’s emotional for me.”
Bauman may not want to be called a hero, but Gyllenhaal, who became close with the Boston native during he making of the film, says, “A lot of people have asked me over my career: ‘When are you going to play in a superhero movie?’ I feel like I finally kind-of have. To me, that’s how I feel about him. He’s a total inspiration to me.”
“Stronger” is not the story of a bomb or the radical politics that saw it planted at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It’s the story of the aftermath.
When we first meet Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) he’s a goofy, out-going 28-year-old guy working as a chicken roaster at Costco. The only thing he loves more than the Red Socks is his ex girlfriend Erin Hurley (Tatiana Maslany), an uptown girl who is running in the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. The night before the run he bumps into her. “I suffered an industrial chicken related accident today,” he says, flirting, “but I’ll be there at the finish line for you.”
History reports what happened next. Bauman, standing next to one of the Boston Bombers, was gravely injured. Rescued by a stranger in a cowboy hat (Carlos Sanz as Carlos Arredondo) he is rushed to the hospital where both his legs are amputated above the knees.
The tragedy shines a spotlight on Jeff who becomes a reluctant beacon for the Boston Strong movement. Released from hospital a hero, as he struggles to learn how to navigate his new body, Erin re-enters his life, drawn by love and guilt for being the reasons he attended the race. As that relationship blossoms and the city embraces him, Jeff grows uneasy, plagued by PTSD. “I don’t want to relive the worst day of my life,” he says.
As he grapples with fame, a mother (Miranda Richardson) who lives vicariously through his newfound celebrity, his relationship with Erin becomes strained. It isn’t until he reconnects with Carlos, the man who saved his life, that Jeff begins to piece together the broken shards of his life.
Because we know the story of the Boston bombing so well, tension builds soon as the marathon scene begins. A man with a backpack, ball cap and shades bumps into Jeff, signalling what is to come but this isn’t an action movie. It is strongest when it gets to be emotional care of the film, Jeff’s inability to deal with his new reality.
Director David Gordon Green is aided by a nuanced performance from Gyllenhaal that mutes his usual movie star physique in favour of a more vulnerable physicality—the scenes of his struggle to adapt to his wheelchair are painful—in favour of a rich inner life. His performance provides a glimpse of Jeff’s complicated feelings as he comes to grips with his new reality. He’s less a movie star and more a down-home heroic figure in-the-making. “I’m reluctant hero,” he says. “People see that I don’t let anything hold me down and maybe they won’t let anything hold them down either.”
As Erin, Maslany is the very embodiment of empathy. She delivers a quiet performance that subtly conveys an olio of emotions from love and guilt to compassion and anger. It’s terrific work that brings some much-needed subtlety to a film that occasionally goes a bit over-the-top.
Jeff’s plain-spoken, high strung family, lead by Jeff Sr (Clancy Brown) and Patty “Did you have sex with my son?” Bauman, is played a bit too broadly. A hint of rough-and-tumble Boston caricature seeps in whenever the Bauman clan gathers in a movie that is at its best when it is restrained.
“Stronger” is sometimes a bit too on the money—“You’re a symbol to a lot of people,” gushes dad, “you’re Boston Strong.”—but works well when it lets go of the triumph of the human spirit angle and allows the characters to behave like people, not heroes.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, including “The Mummy” starring Tom “Show me the Mummy” Cruise, Kate Mara in the woman-and-her-dog story “Megan Leavey” and the D-Day drama “Churchill.”
Winston Churchill, two time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and, according to a 2002 poll, the Greatest Briton of all time, has been played on screens big and small by everyone from Orson Welles and John Houseman to John Cleese and Richard Burton. Recently John Lithgow was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance of the British Bulldog on “The Crown,” and now along comes Brian Cox as the great man in a not-so-great movie.
Set in the four day lead up to the Allied D-Day landings in Normandy, France in June, 1944 “Churchill” presents a different take on the prime minister than we’ve seen before. Cox plays him as a sixty-nine-year-old man exhausted by the weight of power, terrified of repeating the mistakes made at the bloody World War I Battle of Gallipoli. A personal and professional downward spiral following discord with Generals Eisenhower (John Slattery) and Montgomery (Julian Wadham), is slowed by intervention from the PM’s wife, the strong willed Clementine Churchill (Miranda Richardson)
Feature films are not documentaries nor are they history lessons, but “Churchill’s” fast-and-loose relationship with the truth does not play well. While it is true that Churchill did have misgivings about the D-Day invasion the timeframe has been twisted for dramatic effect. Writer Godfrey Cheshire reports that writer and historian Alex von Tunzelmann “’telescoped’ the events of Churchill’s opposition, bringing them from months earlier to the days just before the invasion.” In an effort to link Churchill’s documented depression with one of the key events of WWII she goes nonlinear with history but fails to draw any real drama from her contrived version of events.
Cox grandstands throughout, perhaps in an effort to overcompensate for the cliché dialogue. “Sometimes you can’t lead everything from the front,” he bellows as though saying it louder amplifies its meaning. The gruff portrayal falls into caricature early on and has a hard time transcending into something compelling, let alone the psychological examination director Jonathan Teplitzky had in mind.
James Purefoy as King George VI and Richardson fare better but are bowled over by a script that suffers form a lack of subtlety.
“Churchill” is a beautiful looking movie, but it isn’t history or a portrait of a real person. Instead it is a misleading look at one of the most important eras in modern history.