Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday December 18, 2018 


SYNOPSIS: Boxer Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) turns to trainer Tick Willis (Forest Whitaker) to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) in a tragic accident and his daughter Leila (Oona Laurence) to child protection services.

Review by Louise Keller:
With the story’s emotional heart as compelling as its bloody fight sequences, Southpaw is a powerhouse of a film. It's a transformative role for Jake Gyllenhaal, who is almost unrecognizable as Billy Hope, beefed up with muscles to spare, ornamental tattoos and a tortured face that is often dripping with blood. It is hard not to wince as we watch Billy become a punching bag in the ring. But he is a champion.

When the film begins, the accent is on Billy's carefully bound hands before a championship fight at Madison Square Gardens. He is like a racehorse biting at the bit. It is more with relief than excitement that Billy's beautiful wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) sends a text with the words ‘Daddy won’ to their daughter Leila (Oona Laurence). Director Antoine Fuqua takes pains to describe the close intimate relationship between the two; Billy has enough energy left for a couple of rounds of a different kind this time – with his wife.

The scene after a charity event when a confrontational rival Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez) provokes Billy is unexpected and shocking. A stray bullet changes Billy's life, forcing it to swirl out of control. The loss of his wife and the fact that his daughter is taken from his custody is more than he can bear. Emotions are raw.

Director Antoine Fuqua has crafted a hard-hitting film in which the battle in the ring is only a part. While the first half concentrates on the relationship between Billy and his wife, the second involves that with his daughter and the burgeoning relationship with Forest Whitaker’s trainer, Tick Willis. Billy is at rock bottom when he approaches Tick; the development of their relationship is nicely realised. Whitaker has such screen presence and Tick is an enigma – a talented trainer with an adversity to pro boxers and alcohol. Although he makes exceptions about both.

Laurence is a face to watch – she exudes a wonderful natural ability to let her emotions fly. Everything leads up to the big finale in the plush surrounds of Las Vegas’ Caesar’s Palace. Superb editing makes the championship fight thrilling and edge of seat material. It’s a rousing conclusion to an affecting film that leaves us inspired, satisfied and elated.

Email this article

Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(US, 2015)

CAST: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence, Forest Whitaker, 50 cent, Skylan Brooks, Naomie Harris

PRODUCER: Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Antoine Fuqua, Alan Riche, Peter Riche, Steve Tisch

DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua

SCRIPT: Kurt Sutter


EDITOR: John Refoua

MUSIC: James Horner


RUNNING TIME: 123 minutes



© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2018