Southpaw is an R-rated 2015 sports drama film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Kurt Sutter. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, and Rachel McAdams. It tells the story of world champion boxer, Billy Hope, who loses his wife in a tragic accident, and has to fight to win back his life for his young daughter. We get to see excellent performances by Gyllenhaal and Whitaker, as well as Oona Laurence who plays Hope’s daughter, Leila. It’s tough, it’s raw, it’s emotional, it’s motivational; it’s an amazing film and I highly enjoyed it.
The talented director, Antoine Fuqua has made another praise-worthy film. You may not know his name but you probably know his notable movies: Training Day (2001), Tears of the Sun (2003), King Arthur (2004), Shooter (2007), Olympus Has Fallen (2013), and The Equalizer (2014).
Any movie with Jake Gyllenhaal is really good. This guy gives his everything in all the specific roles he stars in. From skinny and pale Louis Bloom in Nightcrawler (2014) to ripped and zero-to-hero world champion boxer Billy Hope, in this great film. I’ve said it before, Mr. Gyllenhaal is one of those chameleon actors. He can almost play any role and deliver a great and true performance. Aside from his incredible body transformation, Jake does a great and believable character, one who grew up on the streets of New York and made his way to the top as a boxer without losing his attitude and behavior from his past, which causes most of his struggles. Watching him you can agree that that is no good way to deal with his struggles. But for that, we can agree he plays true to that character. Sometimes we judge the characters as we get engrossed with the story and forget it’s a film.
I was surprised to see Forest Whitaker’s name in the opening credits and kind of forgot about him since he doesn’t show up until halfway into the movie. Forest plays Tick Wills, an accomplished boxer who owns a gym and eventually gets convinced by Billy Hope to train him. The developing relationship between Tick and Billy is exceptional. Forest, being the outstanding actor he is, delivers a solid role as a seasoned boxer training Billy Hope.
The cinematography by Mauro Fiore was champion. That slight desaturation in tones always brings the mood down to a serious and tough air. It went really well with this story.
The soundtrack was composed by the late James Horner who died in June of 2015, making Southpaw his last film score. The sound was real and true to the situation of each scene. Also, the music by Eminem and the other rappers is also appreciated for this kind of story.
Fun fact: Eminem was set to play Billy Hope but decided to focus on his music instead. The story was to be the continuation of Eminem’s 8 Mile (2002) story. It would have been a retelling of his struggles using a boxing analogy.
It’s a superb boxing drama with hardcore struggles and satisfying outcomes.
Thanks for reading my review!
– Nick Andersen