Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Now that Christmas is over and we have eaten ourselves into holiday stupors, there is only one thing left to do.

Make New Year’s resolutions.

Or pretend that we are going to make them.

Sometimes what it takes is inspiration.

I was thinking about this when I saw the box for the movie, Stronger starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It is the story of a man who’s legs were amputated after being caught in the wave of the bomb at the Boston Marathon in 2013.

It is hard to believe that was 4 years ago when that big explosion occurred at one of the largest marathon events in the country. For Jeff Bauman, it lead to an extraordinary injury and a tough comeback. But what was even tougher was finding out people thought he was a hero.

One of the themes explored here is what makes a person a hero.

Stronger posterBauman was an ordinary guy trying to be at the end of the marathon when his on-again/off-again girlfriend crossed the finish line. Boston proud, this red sox fan needs to make sure his girlfriend is supported after her big run.

While getting into place, he passes a young man with a backpack. The young man disappears and Bauman focuses back on the race until a white flash goes off. And just like that, life changes. Bauman’s image is caught in the iconic photo of being taken away in wheel chair by first responders.

When he wakes up in the hospital, he discovers that his legs above the knees are gone. Most people have amputations below the knees which allows for more flexibility. His journey towards recovery is tough as he deals with family dysfunction, depression, and a sense of incredulous wonder.

People think he is a hero because he survived the attack at the marathon. People fete him and lift him up while attending the therapy sessions are more than Jeff can bear at times. But at some point, he begins to get it. And that leads to something more.

What makes this movie great are the choices by actors Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, and Miranda Richardson. They make the characters more human than heroic, more real than artfully earnest and triumphant.

Stronger pic 2Which is not to say there are not moments of triumph. Bauman has since gone on to school to become a prosthesis engineer. He created a solar energy capture device for his prosthesis legs. And he has a daughter that he loves to pieces.

What he has come to understand is that people don’t admire him for being ht by a terrible awful bomb. They admire him for going on, for making the effort to recover when he wanted to quit. For showing up when he didn’t want to.

Because as we all know, showing up is the hardest part of any endeavor. If Bauman can show up for this, what could we show up for in our own lives?

Happy New Year and good luck with those resolutions.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.