Opening 19 Apr 2018
On April 15, 2013, the city of Boston was hosting its 117th annual marathon race with 27,000 participants (Wikipedia says 23,000). Jeff Bauman, a 27-year-old employee of Costco’s gourmet food section, was standing at the finish line, waiting for his ex-girlfriend Erin to cross over. He wanted to impress her and win her back after she had broken off the relationship. The race was already four hours underway with about 5,000 participants still running race, when two homemade bombs in pressure cookers exploded, shooting out nails and BBs. Several people died. A survivor was Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs above the knees. Many months of suffering and slow recovery followed, which Bauman detailed in a book, with the help of co-writer Bret Witter. Now, director David Gordon Green has developed the book into a film. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jeff and much praise goes to the special effects artists, as actor Gyllenhaal definitely has no (!) legs. During recovery there are two main sources of support: Erin (Tatiana Maslany), who eventually marries him and has a child, as well as his mother Patty Bauman (Miranda Richarson), who never gives up and pushes him to new heights of achievement. Jeff was able to describe one of the attackers which helped police find the two brothers behind the deed. The whole city of Boston united in a show of strength under the motto “Boston Strong.” Director Green had many discussions with Bauman in order to “show a film as authentic as possible.” He found it a bit difficult, because Bauman is neither a great talker nor showman; he preferred staying in the background, refusing to be a “hero.” Avoiding publicity was difficult, as he became famous to the point that Oprah wanted him on her show; the Red Sox baseball team wanted him to throw out the first ball of the season, etc.
All of the actors above, as well as Clancy Brown who plays Jeff’s father, Lenny Clarke who is Jeff’s Uncle Bob, Patty O’Neil as Aunt Jen and many others are excellent. It’s fun to watch the film in English in order to pick up the typical Boston accent, as all scenes were filmed in greater Boston and 80% of the extras were natives of Boston. The film helps to inform about this fateful event, but is not necessarily entertainment. Spending two hours in the cinema to watch someone learn to walk is not everyone’s idea of time well spent, especially since the viewers know, or can easily predict, the plot development. I look forward to a film about the two perpetrators behind this horrible crime. (Becky Tan)