Our Neighborhood Heroes


By Leslie Feldman

Three cheers for the Great Neck Park District and Great Neck Library for their fantastic programs. I had the opportunity to attend three movies, Maudie, The Big Sick and Stronger, offered by the Library and Park District, and was most impressed by them. All of these films are based on real stories and real people.

A good movie is one that entertains and possibly educates, that has a story to tell and tells it well. A great movie is one that changes the way you see the world. These movies may change the way you see the world and, in particular, adversity.

Maudie is about a disabled woman in Nova Scotia who is kicked out of her house and has nowhere to go. She happens to overhear a man at the general store advertise for a housekeeper so she goes to live with him. When she is set up at the house, she starts painting and becomes a well-respected folk artist and marries the man who took her in. But he never appreciates her. Luckily, she has a friend, a New Yorker staying in Nova Scotia, who takes her in when she leaves him.

Produced from a screenplay that was nominated for an Academy Award, The Big Sick tells the story of a Pakistani-born comedian who finds himself thrown into caring for his former girlfriend who is in a coma in a Chicago hospital. He rises to the occasion and becomes a better person.

Stronger, about one man’s heroic effort to overcome a devastating injury caused by the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon, tells the story of Jeff Bauman who, in an attempt to get back with his girlfriend, Erin, goes to cheer her on at the marathon. She always criticized him for “not showing up,” so he shows up at the marathon and gets his legs blown off. While highlighting his struggle in the wake of extreme adversity, the movie is not preachy and doesn’t discuss politics or terrorism. The message is how an ordinary guy with an ordinary job confronts adversity and how, amazingly, his tragedy makes him noble and heroic. In adversity, he achieves a level of character he probably would not have achieved without suffering. How this film was not nominated for an Academy Award is a mystery. Ditto for Jake Gyllenhaal.

Is adversity when we get four blizzards in four weeks? These movies redefine adversity and challenge us to see the world differently. Thanks to the Park District and Library for selecting outstanding films like these to think about and enjoy.

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