Southpaw Movie Review & Film Summary

Like most boxing movies, Southpaw, isn’t about boxing. It is about a self-destructive man. A man embodied with rage and completely blind to the world around him. The movie itself is a boxing match, not for the characters on screen, but for the audience. The film forces viewers to go twelve emotional rounds, with both ups and downs, receiving gut-punch after gut-punch.

Forest Whitaker and Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw

Forest Whitaker and Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw

Southpaw, directed by Antoine Fuqua, tells the story of professional boxer Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) who after the loss of his wife (Rachel McAdams), hits rock bottom. Shortly after, he loses his daughter (Oona Laurence) because of his reckless behavior. Now, Billy must work his way back from nothing to regain not only his self-worth but his daughter.

Jake Gyllenhaal has become one of the best actors working today. This especially true after his incredible performance in last year’s Nightcrawler. He continues to amaze me in every role he takes on and what makes Southpaw so enjoyable, is that his performance is equally matched by 13-year-old Oona Laurence. The two share such a raw chemistry that every time they are on screen together, I couldn’t look away. It is their damaged and painful relationship that makes this picture so real and effective.

One moment, in particular, illustrates their relationship perfectly. Soon after the passing of McAdams’s character, Gyllenhaal finds himself turning off his daughter’s night-light. She quickly informs him that mom always leaves it on. He quickly turns it back on and there faces both illustrate frustration and loss, while on the verge of tears. We see that Oona wants to reach out to her father but is fearful, after he walks away she calls out to him but then recants. She begins to cry as hopelessness fills her eyes. On the other side of the wall, Gyllenhaal is on the floor in tears realizing how lost he is without his wife. Father and daughter, who desperately need each other, are only separated by a wall. This is by literally and figuratively true and watching these characters break down that wall make this movie so memorable.

The one issue that Southpaw has is its lack of originality. On the surface it is cliché and familiar, however as long as I enjoy the ride, I don’t mind knowing where we are going. I wasn’t focused on the fact I could easily guess the next plot point or the resolution; I was in the moment. I was with Gyllenhaal dealing with his change and his emotions. Sure, movies should strive to be original, but I would rather have an effective film that is familiar rather than an ineffective movie that’s original.

If you’re going to see Southpaw to watch an incredible boxing movie, then you are in for a surprise. The boxing sequences are shot to satisfaction but offer nothing new or exciting. They don’t challenge the subgenre in any way. So, it is only when Billy is out of the ring when this movie really shines. It is a film about emotion, grief, and anger. On that aspect, this movie does go beyond satisfaction, and it moved me more than most of the pictures I’ve seen so far this year.

3.5 out of 4 stars

-By Jacob Tiranno

Here is our review for the other film that came out this week: Pixels

In case you missed our video review for this week, check it out below:

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One Response to Southpaw Movie Review & Film Summary

  1. […] Here is our review for the other film that came out this week: Southpaw […]

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