By Aric Sweeny
“Southpaw” is a conventional boxing story that follows Billy ‘the great’ Hope as he fights his way to the top, after hitting rock bottom.
Gyllenhaal gives one of the best performances of his career, and is my pick to win the Oscar this year; keep in mind we still have many films to see. He nails the intensity and craziness of being in the ring, while maintaining a sense of empathy for his family and friends. He showed that even the toughest and mightiest of men do have emotions, and have to deal with personal problems.
Forest Whitaker(Titus “Tick” Wills) gave a fantastic supporting role to Gyllenhaal. Their chemistry and character development was definitely noticed throughout the film, especially in the final boxing match between Hope and Miguel Escobar. He played the stern but wise character, which contrasted perfectly with Hope’s younger foolish nature. A quote I loved involving these two was spoken by Hope,where he said: “my wife would have liked you”. It was used at the perfect time as not only comic relief, but also brilliant bond forming between the two.
Oona Laurence(Leila Hope) was also a stand out in her role. Although there were some lines and scenes where I didn’t like her character’s lines or actions, she was adequate to the intensity of the film.
The score, composed by the late and great James Horner (RIP), was completely fitting to the movie, making already good scenes even better. This, mixed with the fantastic cinematography, made “Southpaw” full of gorgeous scenes.
This film’s action scenes involved solely the fists of two individuals in a ring, but somehow managed to be extremely entertaining and emotionally gripping. Definitely a highlight.
The pace was a bit too slow, with some things getting too much time while others not enough. Instead of having three scenes involving Hope in a visitation with his daugher, there should have been two, with one more scene added to develop the story between Hoppy (the teen boxer met at Tick’s gym) and Hope.
“Southpaw” could have been another generic boxing movie, but escaped that route because of the amazing performances and heartfelt moments. Move over “Inside Out”, “Southpaw” is my new movie of the year.
Rating: 4.5/5 STARS