Southpaw’s lead character Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) looks to be in a pretty sweet spot.
After a hard fought victory over rival Darius Jones in a brutal boxing match defending his Light Heavyweight World Title, Hope heads to his palatial home to continue his opulent lifestyle in the company of his beautiful wife and daughter.
He’s battered and bruised and his wife Mo – Maureen (Rachel McAdams) is keen for him to retire before he damages his body and brain beyond repair..
Billy is reluctant to quit being a boxer as it’s all he knows.
Raised in an orphanage – where he and his wife first met – everything that defines Billy comes from the bloody sport.
When trash-talking Miguel “Magic” Escobar brings tragedy on Hope and his family at a fundraising event, Billy’s life rapidly heads South.
There is an authenticity about this film, and rather than devote any time at all to solving the crime that upends Billy’s life, we are forced to experience the lowest of lows as he loses his wife, his daughter, his wealth and his career in quick succession, and when he is left with “nothing left to lose” that’s when the film becomes even more entertaining.
At it’s core is a film about a father and a daughter and a man who is compelled to take stock of himself to see what lies beneath the surface.
Powerhouse performances from every single cast member lift this Antoine Fuqua film well above his last effort – 2014’s The Equalizer, and I fully expect Gyllenhaal to earn his second consecutive Oscar nomination, following on from his amazing performance as Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler.
I don’t particularly like boxing, and while it won’t be for everyone, Southpaw is a knockout.