Candice Tan
by Candice Tan

David Gordon Green‘s film Stronger, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, tells the harrowing true story of Boston Bombing survivor Jeff Bauman. The second film that addresses the infamous 2013 Bombing incident (following Patriots Day by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg), Green focuses his attention on a particular person amidst the tragedy and the challenges and hope he came to represent.


Jeff Bauman was just like any other average 27-year-old young man. He worked at the deli counter at Costco and was considering going back to school. He had a girlfriend, Erin Hurley (Tatiana Maslany), and a relationship which had its usual ups and downs as well. But on April 15th of 2013, Bauman’s life would change forever.  

The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and attracts participants and spectators from around the world. Bauman was one of the hundreds of spectators cheering on the runners as they crossed the finish line, holding up a sign of support for his then-girlfriend. But before Hurley crossed, one of the two bombs detonated. The consequence for Bauman, who was standing right next to the first bomb, was tragic – he lost both legs from the knees. The photograph of Bauman, being rushed off in a wheelchair, bloodied and distressed, by a man in a cowboy hat made waves around the world.

The actual picture of Jeff Bauman that went viral around the world

The traumatic experience that Bauman endured meant that he needed to face many new challenges. He had to attend physical therapy sessions and counselling in order to get his everyday life back on track. But Bauman initially struggled and instead chose to party his sorrows away. His struggles also affected those around him.

Hurley, for example, is said to have felt immense guilt about what happened to Bauman, since he had been at the finish line for her in response to a recent fight they had about his lack of ‘being there’. Indeed it wasn’t just the physical wounds that needed to be healed for Bauman, but the psychological ones as well.

Because of what Bauman went through, he unwittingly became the symbol of both the carnage and hope of that fateful day in Boston. A few weeks after the bombing, Bauman and his saviour in the cowboy hat - Carlos Arredondo - were honoured at Fenway Park, with Bauman throwing the first pitch. Since those early months, Bauman has since written a book about his experience, has had a daughter and married Hurley, and remains a beacon of hope and remembrance of that fateful day in Boston.

Jeff Bauman and the stranger that rushed to save him

Bauman’s story is riveting and complex. He was an ordinary young person who had to – and continues to – endure extraordinary circumstances. It is this story of the incredible journey of this resilient young man which David Gordon Green tells is an honest, sensitive and moving way, and is a testament to why Stronger is one of the most anticipated films of this year.

Bauman and Erin, and their bundle of joy, Nora. The couple has recently divorced but are committed to co-parenting their daughter.