Jake Gyllenhaal, with all his other commendable film works, shows us what it takes for someone to keep on pushing through adversity and never give up. Brought down by tragic circumstances, his character learns the true meaning of grit and never-ending discipline to achieve a daunting task.
Southpaw (2015) is directed by Antoine Fuqua and stars Jake Gyllenhaal as the main actor, alongside Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence, and Curtis Jackson.
Billy Hope is a renowned, up-and-coming tough junior middleweight boxing champion with a considerably competitive career as a professional boxer, a cherished wife and daughter, and a luxurious lifestyle.
When hardship arrives at Billy’s door, he sinks to the lowest levels of pain and humiliation, losing his family, house, and managing director.
He inevitably encounters a former fighter who trains and coaches aspiring amateur boxers: Tick Wills.
With his whole life and future dreams on the chopping block, Hope vigorously brawls in an effort to regain the trust and love of those he holds most dearly to him.
I primarily had a worrying suspicion that this was just gonna be your average cliched boxing prodigy film.
That this was gonna bore me with the constantly imitated scenes stolen from the Rocky Balboa franchise and nothing original being created.
I was definitely wrong.
The character Billy Hope proved to be a realistic individual with his own passions, dreams and struggles to juggle around.
His development and progression throughout the plot enticed me to no end.
How he had it all at one point with the world at his finger tips, to life turning into an unreal nightmare for him, to experiencing the most debased feelings of loss and emotional pain, to finding the courage and strength within himself to move forward despite the challenges and astounding obstacles ahead of him.
The writers of this screenplay did an honorary job of establishing who Hope is and why the viewer should be interested in this person.
Through scenes that express feelings of motivation and energetic vitality, and others that convey loving warmness and care, the characters realistically became alive on the screen.
Anthony Fuqua handles the direction of this movie like an expert.
When I watched some of the choreographed fight scenes, the talent and practical ability of Fuqua as a director became very apparent to me.
He made these fights look absolutely naturalistic with the way the actors moved around and threw punches.
I was hesitant at first of the camera speed locking on to the boxers so that the rate at which the frame moves doesn’t come off as choppy and out of focus.
Those doubts were taken care of thankfully as Fuqua didn’t fail to impress me with his command and strict concentration of the direction and acting.
I genuinely felt like I was in the ring with Gyllenhaal.
With the way the camera smoothly and effectively copied the footwork and quickness of Hope, it felt peculiar how I mimed myself bobbing and weaving like he was.
Fuqua’s brilliant use of accurate camera angle work was self-evident the second Billy Hope was first shown battling in the ring.
When it comes to how visually appealing the effects from the fights looked, they were nauseatingly rich.
For example, the amount and force of hits that Gyllenhaal’s character would endure and how he recovered from that proved to be a cinematic work of art.
It wasn’t just him being punched around that was engaging.
It was also the blood being spilled from his mouth, his nose, and even his eye several times, as well as the spit shooting forth when blows were meeting his solar plexus that contributed heavily to all of it being presented in such a graphically bracing manner.
The cuts and wounds that were painfully created from fighting for long periods of time served to shape the visual effects into a ruggedly masculine form.
Kick Ass Performances
Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t have to be reminded of how perfect he was in this role, I’m sure.
It’s very obvious that he put in countless hours of determined training and preparation to play his character convincingly.
And he achieved that remarkably through hard work and sheer force of will.
Whitaker excels at playing the mentor who takes Gyllenhaal under his wing and coaches him.
The moments where they practiced boxing and trained rigorously, combined with the earnest conversation between them back and forth on their downtime, would’ve been enough to just carry the movie on its own and still be outstanding.
Rachel McAdams and Curtis Jackson also portrayed their roles with authentic genuineness.
Jackson particularly was swag with his speech and the way he conducted himself, both in public and private with Gyllenhaal.
The one that impressed me the most, I would say, would be Oona Laurence.
This little girl absolutely blew me away.
I wouldn’t be surprised if she received a best supporting actress nomination, she honestly earned it.
Her sincere effort in some scenes were captured by her alone and magnified increasingly through compelling and influential dialogue with Gyllenhaal.
Southpaw is an energetically thrilling Sports Drama.
I had an enjoyable time watching this great piece of work and would most definitely recommend it to others.
Gyllenhaal is such a spectacular actor, not only in this one, but in any movie he puts his effort into.
Examples include Nightcrawler and Prisoners, two other phenomenal films that Gyllenhaal enhances with his captivating applications.
Antoine Fuqua as well makes this one stand out with his ingenious talent at directing the gritty scenes.
I came out of the ending feeling high-spirited and vibrant.
The next time I create a project for myself I’m gonna remind myself of the importance of staying the course and never giving up.
It’s okay to fail, we all do, and we inevitably will at some point if we haven’t yet.
What ends up revealing someone’s true character is not when they’re comfortable with possessing luxuries and being sedentary, it’s when they have to face their struggles and fears, and how they respond to that internally.
I’m reminiscently reminded of a certain quote spoken of by the stoic Seneca, and it undeniably rings true in this case:
“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.”– Seneca
FP Score – Praiseworthy