What an amazing movie. This story about a boxer isn’t about boxing but rather to what depths a man must sink to win what he prizes above all else. It’s about a man’s flaws, rashness, redemption and above all else, love, for without love redemption has no value.
The script for this movie is brilliantly crafted. The movie starts off and you say to yourself, ‘I know where this is going’ but about two minutes later you realize you have no clue. By that time, you are totally caught up in in the performances being given.
Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the premier character actors of his generation. He whipped his body into shape for this role and he enters the movie ring with his killer abs, knockout left, and his ‘abandoned on the street’ attitude, that defines his character. You simultaneously fear and empathize with him.
As good as Gyllenhaal is in this movie, the standout for me is Forest Whitaker. This is by far one of his best supporting roles ever. Honestly, I came away from this movie thinking he should’ve been nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of a broken down gym owner, with a not so clean past with the Southpaw. In the movie, Whitaker’s character is the Southpaw’s redemption. Moving beyond one’s past is a major theme in this movie. The Oscars could’ve used a little diversity this year and Whitaker is a prime example of what they missed by overlooking minorities in the nominating process.
Rachel McAdams is believable in a supporting role as the Southpaw’s wife and Oona Laurence does well as the kid, smarter than her years, daughter. There really isn’t a weak link among the cast in this film.
There should’ve been more fanfare about this film when it was released but in the chaos that was the movie industry of 2015, a lot of great movies came and went without hardly a box office ripple. As I mentioned earlier, while there are some great boxing scenes, this isn’t a boxing movie. I promise you that if you rent this (it is out on DVD now) that you’ll be caught up in this drama. A strong five by five rating for the Southpaw from me.