Southpaw Movie Poster
Southpaw Movie Poster

Rating: 3/5 Stars (Three stars)

Star Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams

Director: Antoine Fuqua

What’s Good: You truly smell the blood, sweat and pressure of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Billy Hope in this performance driven drama. Also a beefed up Jake looks way hotter than usual!

What’s Bad: The generic stereotyping makes Southpaw an extremely conventional and predictable tale.

Loo break: Don’t even think about the second half!

Watch or Not?: Amongst all the movies based on boxing, I assure you this is not the best. Yet, there is something impressive about this film and that is the cast. Watch it for Jake’s strenuous efforts!

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Fame comes with its flip side and while Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) has a picture perfect life, it takes a 360 degree turn and this is a tale of his rise-fall and rise again phases.

Hope is the light heavyweight boxing champion living a luxurious life with his beautiful wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and daughter Leila (Oona Laurence). Hope is ageing by the day and Maureen starts to get worried about his no holds barred approach at boxing. After hurting himself in sensitive areas such as over the eye, Maureen asks Hope to take a break as she fears a fatal injury. Even as Hope remains unconvinced with this suggestion, he has those self-retrospective moments where he knows he is hurting. At a fund-raising charity where Hope talks about his difficult childhood in foster care, in an unexpected exchange of verbal abuse between him and Miguel Escobar, a brash boxer, Maureen gets shot and dies on the spot, leaving Hope in despair.

Trying to cope with her loss, Hope turns to substance abuse and alcohol leading to losing his house due to debts and also the custody of Leila considering his vulnerable mental state.

It is after losing his daughter’s custody that Hope decides to take control of his life and hit the boxing ring again. Thus, what entails is the story of him overcoming his anger, guilt and revenge.

still from movie 'Southpaw'
still from movie ‘Southpaw’

Southpaw Review: Script Analysis

Southpaw as an experience may be a good one but the predictability of its story is disappointing. Almost all films in this genre have faced a similar problem and yet only films like ‘Million Dollar Baby’ and ‘The Fighter’ or the Rocky series have truly stood out. Suffering from heavy stereotyping, the film leaves us least surprised to see a once successful Hope lose everything and get back on his feet from where he started off. Take away the heavy swearing and the amazing soundtrack, Southpaw has very little to offer on the plot side. The writer tries to ride on the empathy factor all through the first half as he shows Billy completely losing it. Fortunately, it is the second half that gets us all hooked thanks to the less melodrama and more of boxing in it.

Southpaw Review: Star Performance

This is definitely a career-defining performance for Jake Gyllenhaal. His brash and brawny look is completely drool worthy. While I would have never pictured him to play a boxer, Gyllenhaal’s body language is bang on and the attitude even better. This film is a winner because of him.

Rachel McAdams takes a small but powerful role in the film. As a caring, insecure yet calling the shots for the family kind of wife, she fits the bill. Her chemistry with Jake is fresh and who knows about off-screen, but on-screen they do create some magic.

Oona Laurence as Leila does a brilliant job. She is emotionally enticing and her act is so genuine that you truly feel her pain.

Forest Whitaker is the second best performer in the film. As the coach, he is one hell of a character. Sarcasm is key for his role and he does it extremely well.

50 Cent Curtis as Hope’s manager too does a fine job but we enjoy his song from the film much more.

Southpaw Review: Music, Direction

Antoine Fuqua’s direction works wonders for Southpaw. His camerawork is agile and as the lens moves inside and around the ring, Antoine actually makes us feel being a part of it. In the scenes where Hope is in the ring, the lens moves over his shoulder and it’s as if you are jabbing his opponent. The soundtrack with Eminem, 50 Cent, Gwen Steffani and James Horner, gives this film another level of brilliance. In fact, the music is one of the core reasons that the film has landed a blow at the international box office. Fuqua’s last work The Equalizer was gripping enough but Southpaw may certainly outperform it.

Southpaw Review: The Last Word

Bleed, sweat and jab with Billy Hope through his downfall and rise. Watch this boxing drama for Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker. I am going with a 3/5 for the film.

Southpaw Trailer

Southpaw releases on 28th July, 2015.

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