With Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams, Naomi Harris, Curtis Jackson
Written by Kurt Sutter
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
It has become clear that after boxing movies like Champion (1949), Rocky (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Million Dollar Baby (2004), even biopic Ali (2001), that there are only really a few directions the narrative can go within this genre.
Southpaw has Gyllenhaal in the lead role as the tempered Billy Hope, an orphan who rose to world boxing champion. But at the peak of his success, tragedy kicks him down hard, leaving him isolated (losing his money, home, custody of his daughter), falling into depresson. But he picks himself up, set to build up his life again and get his daughter back, despite his bullish personality.
The expected path of rising from nothing to triumph and soaring in a comfort zone, only to be knocked down, losing it all, then struggle back to the top for redemption is well compartmentalized here, and not too surprising. In some cases even the lines and situations hint directly at Rocky, although the conviction of the actors should be enough to draw the viewer into emotional engagement, the heartstrings sometimes plucked gratuitously, but effective nonetheless.
As with these kinds of movies, the lead naturally goes all out, getting in shape, training and doing as much as they can to be convincing as a boxer - Gyllenhaal did the same and he makes a pretty good job of it.
4 / C
- Paul Blom
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- A - B - C