Southpaw tells the story of boxer Billy Hope as he turns to trainer, Tick Wills, to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife in a tragic accident and his daughter to child protection services.
This film will absolutely blow you away. The performances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams (despite her somewhat brief role), and daughter character played by Oona Laurence, oozed depth and emotion as they each took as on a journey throughout a film that cannot just be categorised as a “boxing film.” It’s a story about family. About loss. And trying to find your sense of stability after a traumatic experience that leaves you cornered by grief.
If anything, Gyllenhaal’s, McAdams’, and Laurence’s performances are what make it stand out as the essence of the story is something that has been done before as a man with everything looses everything and fights his way back as a new man. Yet, it’s about creating a new spin, a new sensitive, performance driven film that makes it a fresh and compelling film.
McAdams seems to be always underappreciated for the roles she tackles and with her brief yet important role in Southpaw, she channels her charm and chemistry with Gyllenhaal to add weight to the emotional stakes of the film as we remember her scenes long after she has departed the screen. To have that affect upon the story and the film shows how valuable her performance was. This was the same with Laurence, who is more of a presence in a film that centres around the emotional journey of Gyllenhaal’s character. Laurence is an absolute find and a talented young actress that plays up to the role that she’s been given. She shows her characters innocence and vulnerability as well as resentment and determination against the powerhouse performances of her parents.
Director Antoine Fuqua helps unearth the destroying heartbreak in Billy’s anguish as he visits a daughter who has grown to despise him as well as developing the friendship between Billy and his trainer, Tick, as they genuinely connect through their experiences.
But as we draw to the performance of Jake Gyllenhall, we cannot deny the performances over the previous films we’ve seen him in over the last few years (see Nightcrawler, Prisoners, and End of Watch). He’s proved to be a bold actor that deals with his character’s demons with a deep interest from the audience, and this is where he excels in his performances. You can see the pain and trauma in his portray of Billy in Southpaw as he tries to deal with his tremulous life.
If anything, this is a performance driven film that should be experienced, especially for Gyllenhaal, whose currently performing at the height of his career.