Southpaw – Review

Boxing films have a tough time really connecting with audiences.  Minus the greatness of Rocky and Raging Bull it's hard to really say there are quality films about the sweet science.  Documentaries yes, but actual fictional narratives?  Southpaw is the latest attempt at a good boxing film.  Is the Weinstein Company's most recent venture worth it or just another sad loser?

Director Antoine Fuqua and Writer Kurt Sutter's film hits the right beats and looks at the true elements that make for a good film, not just a good boxing film.  Now the boxing in it is realistic and well-shot.  There isn't a wasted frame when it comes to the actual fights and the training.  This movie may have it's issues and some small plot holes, but overall this is the best boxing film released in over a decade.  And I enjoyed The Fighter a lot, but the training, the boxing and the heart in this story resonates so much more.  It's a complete look at a boxer's rise and fall and his graceful last rebound at being a champ.  Jake Gyllenhaal (Billy Hope) continues to pick bold and brash characters that fully highlight his abilities to transform himself.  After a career defining role like Nightcrawler he's completely bulked up to become a real viable thug boxer.  His mannerisms, attitude, gait, & his lefty leanings all seem real and fresh.

But Southpaw isn't good simply because of the ability to show realistic boxing, it also is successful in it's emotional impact.  Rachel McAdams character (Maureen Hope) is a well fleshed out figure and even though her screen time is short her impact is not.  Her interactions with the underrated 50-Cent (quality as a Don King like promoter) are some of the best scenes in the film.

She is commanding and her character's story is emotionally captivating.  It's her honesty that reverberates though out the film.  The best battles aren't fought in the ring.

There are wonderful performances scattered throughout the film.  Forest Whittaker at times can be a bit cheesy, but his character is hugely important in the story.  I loved seeing the conflict in Forest's Tick Wills.  His vice is so much more well captured in the film than Christian Bale's Dickey Eklund's struggle with drugs in The Fighter.  The alcohol is a great crutch for Tick and it's his battle with that which helps feed the passion behind his training of Billy.  Oona Laurence steals scenes as Leila Hope (Billy and Maureen's young daughter).  Her plot is also one of the film's many battles as she has to fight the hardest.  The system is even more difficult to battle than any of Billy Hope's foes.  His heartfelt fights over Leila help give the film's it's true backbone.  His best acting occurs opposite the young Laurence and the wonderfully cast Naomie Harris as child protective services agent Angela Riveria.  The acting, the music, the direction, the story all are on point in this great film.  Not just a good boxing movie, but overall a moving and well told film about a family's journey.

Southpaw is worth your attention.  For more details about the film please go, here.

Southpaw Your Moment

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