Hold up your hands. Now bend your hands back a little bit and curl your fingers. Then use this hand position to hit someone in the face, with the bottom part of your palm. That is what I thought Southpaw was before this movie.

Southpaw didn’t actually teach me what a Southpaw was, I had to find out after the fact. Apparently it is just a mainly left handed boxer though, instead of the normal right handed boxer. Oh well.

Either way, the main reason I was interested in this film was to see a buff Jake Gyllenhaal. We had glimpses of it in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, but no one wanted to see that movie for some reason. The best part about the muscles put on by Gyllenhaal is that he did it right after starring in Nightcrawler, where he famously lost a lot of weight and has scrawny body.

Look out everyone. Gyllenhaal is now willing to do potential future harm to his health to give it his all in these roles.

And he is excited to do it!

Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) has got it all. He is undefeated, over 40 wins to his name! He is the lightweight champion of the world! He has friends, a loving wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams), a daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence), a mansion, a lifelong manager friend/promoter (50 Cent), and fat filthy stacks of cash.

But he wasn’t given these things. He had to work hard. He was an orphan, raised in the foster care system. So was his wife! So were all his friends. From nothing they created something great, and now with all the hits to the head, there is a chance he could lose it all if he keeps taking a beating. His wife wants him to live to see their daughter grow up, a fair request. So sure, maybe he should retire.

Not everyone is down with his retirement though. Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez) claims he is the best at the sport, but Billy won’t give him a chance. Miguel needs to beat the best to claim he is the best, so he starts a public taunting event to get Billy to commit. But when the taunting gets too personal, events quickly escalate and a pretty bad thing happens. I honestly don’t know if the bad thing was said in the spoiler, so I will avoid saying it.

Needless to say, post “bad thing”, Billy won’t get to live out the rest of his life as planned. Depression, loss of wealth, drugs, all of these things bring Billy down. After he loses everything, then, maybe then, he can turn his life around with an old gym owner (Forest Whitaker) and living on the streets.

Also featuring Naomie Harris, Skylan Brooks, and Beau Knapp.

Girl Face
Billy was eventually defeated by a KO from his daughter, quite embarrassingly.

Southpaw left me an emotional wreck. Notably important, I have a wife and I have a daughter, so despite not growing up on the streets or being athletic in any way, I found myself relating really heavily with the main character. All the bad things that happened to him I could imagine happening to me, so I was on the same wavelength from minute 1 and on.

Southpaw isn’t a revolutionary story. It has some normal boxing movie moments, maybe even cliches if you will. It wasn’t going for Warrior (shut up, I know it wasn’t boxing, close enough). But what elevates Southpaw is in the incredible acting.

Everyone was on point in this film. Gyllenhaal gave a complete performance, transforming himself into a new person. The film was originally going to star Eminem as the titular role, as a spiritual sequel to 8 Mile. Obviously Eminem wasn’t a champion boxer, but the whole film would be a metaphor for what was going on in his life and his own struggles. It was actually easy to imagine him playing the role early on, but I don’t think he could have pulled off the more emotional and intense parts of the film in the middle and end.

McAdams is in a lot of movies that make me cry, but she is never the reason for the tears. This time McAdams made me cry, who gave one of her best performances. It took awhile to get used to it, but it worked. Whitaker also gives his best performance in years, doing well on the drunk ramblings. It was nice to see after a few pretty bad and cheap movies in a row. And of course, Laurence as the daughter did an amazing job. She conveyed emotions through her eyes like a seasoned pro, with only one of her scenes feeling a bit cheesy.

Southpaw is a movie about a family and boxing. Broken down it is awkward: Boxer’s life turned upside down due to boxing, only way to fix it is more boxing. But the acting and characters make it an incredible film experience.

4 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.