Southpaw is a Boxing Drama starring one of, if not THE BEST character actors of today Jake Gyllenhaal. Now, boxing dramas have been around forever, and there are a tonne of them, some good and some bad, so this definitely had a lot of competition that it would be constantly compared to. Although it is not the best one we have seen it is definitely better than most. The main draw of this film was the cast, i will see any film that has Jake Gyllenhaal in it regardless of what it was about and you also have Rachel McAdams and Forest Whitaker to back him up so it had the cast in its favour. Where this movie differentiates from other boxing films are the moments away from the ring, because to be honest by now we have seen almost everything that can be shown in boxing films. That is really the only thing i found that let the film down, the fact that it didn’t offer anything new made it predictable in that you knew what the main beats were going to be after the 30 minute mark. Although the boxing fights were extremely well choreographed and some of the better fights i have seen in these films it wasn’t enough to have me engaged in those sections of the film.
This film strives in two particular areas, the performances, and the emotional weight of the film. I will start with talking about the level of emotion that is expressed and explored be these characters over the course of the film. The thing that had me almost completely invested in the film was how Gyllenhaal’s character would deal with certain tragedies in his life and evolve throughout the film and how the relationships he had with certain characters would change and affect him. Stuff like this is what surprised me about the film, i realised from the trailer that the more emotional and meaningful moments would play a huge part in the film but i had no idea that it would be one of the best things about it. Watching this man who is forced to overcome set-backs in his personal and professional life for the people he loves was a great story that completely overtook the film for me and helped me really enjoy it. At first it may look like the main plot and the boxing matches would guide the film and the emotional moments would be thrown in here and there, but by the end you realise that it is the emotions being expressed by the characters and the ways they choose to deal with them that take the film from the start to the end.
But, this film would be no-where near as good as it was if there was an absence of Jake Gyllenhaal because he stole the film and delivered yet another gripping and intense performance that you can’t forget. This man proves again and again why i think he is one of the best character actors to have lived, because you can tell from watching his films the amount of dedication this guy puts into his roles. He is so good that you don’t see Jake Gyllenhaal, you don’t see the guy from Brokeback Mountain in this film, you see Billy Hope as with all of his other films. Just look at his transition both mentally and physically from last years masterpiece ‘Nightcrawler’ where he played a weird skinny reporter to this film where he is absolutely ripped and plays an emotionally damaged boxer. The versatility this guys brings to his roles makes his films so much more enjoyable. Look at Donnie Darko, Enemy, Nightcrawler, all very different and all very incredible and we can add this performance to the list now.
But thats enough about Gyllenhaal because Forest Whitaker also brings a tonne of emotional depth into the film. He fully commits to his role and just adds another great performance to his list of many. And your supporting cast of Rachel McAdams and surprisingly the young Oona Lawrence were great in mainly assisting in adding to the character of Billy and guiding his journey.
But in the end the film is kinda dragged down by a weak and predictable plot but the emotional weight of the film and stellar performances lift it up to become another good boxing drama. – 7
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