Southpaw directed by Antoine Fuqua, written by Kurt Sutter, and Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and Rachel McAdams. Southpaw is about a boxer Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) who is on top of the world, then like the old saying goes, the something hits the fan. Then Hope goes into a downward spiral, only to have to get it together and climb back to the top. Southpaw at its core is a story of Hopes personal redemption. Hopes demons do not physically manifest in the usual way, and I felt that Fuqua and Sutter glossed over a majority of the redemption narrative, more details to come on that a little later.
The strengths of Southpaw lie in many places, one of them being the direction of Antoine Fuqua. First, Fuqua directs the boxing well. The final fight is intense and the way that Fuqua directs the boxing scenes in general feel like a real boxing match. Aside from the boxing scenes, Fuqua shows his directing prowess in the scene where it hits the fan, and Gyllenhaal’s character enters his downward spiral. While watching that scene, my first instinct was to use it as something that is not the movies favor because the scene is frantic, chaotic, and it is confusing to watch. During this scene, I did not know what was going on, and usually this is not a good. However, it slowly dawned on me what Fuqua’s intention with directing that scene in that manner. Fuqua intended to show that the particular moment depicted in the scene is a moment that is just that, frantic, chaotic, and confusing. The next strength is in the cast of the film. Gyllenhaal, Whitaker, and McAdams (although only briefly in the film) were all awards caliber, no winners, but of that caliber. Gyllenhaal, much in line with what he has been doing in his roles lately, completely transforms into Billy Hope.
The biggest weakness that I saw in this film is that as I mentioned earlier is that Southpaw is Billy Hope’s redemption story, but the film only tells half the story. When telling a redemption story half of the story is the fall, and Southpaw glosses over a lot of the fall. The story of the film plays out like this, you have the event that starts the fall, a portion of the spiral, and then you have the bottom and Hope climbing back up. What you do see of his spiral is confusing, and only revealed through expository dialog and not seen prior to the expository dialog, nor is any of that stuff seen or mentioned again. Because the fall happens so quickly, the film is missing about half the story. Also, the relationship between Gyllenhaal and his daughter is underdeveloped. It is underdeveloped from the daughter’s side of the relationship because her arch also played out quickly. Every time the daughter’s disposition toward Gyllenhaal changes I was left wondering why it changed so rapidly.
Overall, Southpaw was a film that excelled in its direction, featured stellar performances, and despite some minor issues with the execution of the character arcs a well-written film. Fun fact for all of you hip-hop fans out there, the screenwriter Kurt Sutter based the film on the life of Eminem. Southpaw is a good movie, although it does get a little heavy and it just keeps on with the bad things that happen to Hope. Southpaw gets a 4/5.