Quick Summary: Boxer Billy Hope is an undefeated boxer who must embark on the road to redemption after tragedy strikes.
More Info: IMDb
Southpaw Official Spoilers (Major Spoilers)
So first of all, I kinda hope you didn't watch the above trailer. It spoils more of the movie's plot than I think a trailer should, and certainly more than I'd want to know before watching a film. The first trailer I grabbed spoiled way more. I originally had tagged it as "Major spoilers, seriously guys, like 95% of the plot - don't watch the trailer," but then I decided to say fuck it and find a different trailer. It's still TMI (kinda like Grandma when she gets drunk at family get-togethers), but it's not as bad. It's the very reason I avoid trailers like the plague until after I see a film. I don't want to know the plot in advance. I want to experience the film not knowing what to expect. But I digress; none of this pertains to the actual review.
So let's talk about the movie's plot without ruining the whole fucking thing. Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a boxer who's gone undefeated for 43 fights, his entire career. He's got money, a wife, a kid - things are going pretty damn well for him. This is a movie though; you know it's not going to stay like that for the whole movie. So of course shit goes sour quickly. Unlike the trailers, I'm not going to spoil the fuck out of the movie. Suffice it to say (and minor spoilers ahead), Hope's career, finances, family life, personal life, and really his entire life go to shit. Predictably, the movie focuses on his path to redemption and getting his shit back together after his life gets fucked up. I won't tell you how that works out for him, but chances are you've already figured out a lot of it from there. While the film is an entertaining watch, the plot isn't the most original, and it suffers some from predictability.
I realize this is largely my personal preferences speaking, but I enjoyed the first half of the film more than the second. This is simply because the first half focused on Hope's life going to high hell, and the second is him working to come back from that. It's the same reason I prefer Raging Bull to Rocky (two films I'm seeing this film garner a lot of comparisons, many of which I think are undeserved). Both great films, but the first is a picture of a self-destructive boxer as it is, and the other the hope-filled story of an unknown, up-and-coming boxer. The same is true here, as I prefer watching the downward spiral to watching the redemptive journey. Those who enjoy stories of redemption will likely enjoy both the second half, and the overall film, more than I did. (Don't be mistaken though, I did enjoy this film.)
Special mention needs to be made of Jake Gyllenhaal's performance in this film. I first saw Gyllenhaal in last year's phenomenal film, Nightcrawler, and his acting was one of the standout points of the film, and he delivers another stellar performance in this film. It's a totally different role than his previous one, and it's props to his credit for pulling off both so well. It makes me want to see some of his other films to see how he manages in other roles (I've heard some pretty positive things about quite a few of them).
He also seriously beefed up since Nightcrawler.
So Southpaw isn't a must-see film, but it's still an entertaining watch. It has some flaws, but they're worth overlooking if you want a gritty tale about a man hitting bottom and working to get back on track.
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