Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Southpaw – Movie Review

I had to take my car back to the Meineke shop for them to check on the air conditioning on Saturday. They were going to see if the dye they put in the air condition tank showed any places where there was a leak. Thankfully they did not.

They finished up around 3:30 and I decided to go and see a movie after that. I found a parking space in a garage (where it just so happens parking is free on the weekends) and went to the movies.

I decided I wanted to see Southpaw. I decided not to read any reviews but to go in with a fresh mind. I did notice on one of movie apps, which I checked to get the show times, that the score was only so-so.

The first thing about the movie is how different Jake Gyllenhaal looks in this film. And he really looks different from the preppy look he has in most movies. He was almost unrecognizable.

Here’s a little about the training he went through for the role:
Gyllenhaal went from a relatively slight 147 pounds to a ripped 175 pounds in just six months, trainer Terry Claybon, who whipped Jake into shape for Southpaw, in theaters July 24, tells E! News. And they had a lot of work to do when they first met up to discuss training.

“He wasn’t in any shape at all,” Claybon said. “We met at a boxing gym, and he was jumping rope. Just the way he was jumping rope, I knew we had a lot of work to do.”

Claybon didn’t let Gyllenhaal cut any corners: “Everything we did in training was as if he was having a professional boxing match.”
That realism really showed in the movie. Gyllenhaal plays Billy Hope (there were just one too many use of the last name for me in the script too many there’s still hope get it), a boxer from the wrong side of the tracks an orphan no less that has made it big. He’s the champion. The opening of the movie Hope in a title fight which he wins but takes brusing in doing so. The fight scenes are real the blood isn’t but there’s still a lot of it. I would say this film is not for the squish because there’s a lot of blood.

Hope is challenged by another boxer Victor Ortiz who wants to fight Hope. While both are leaving a charity function an altercation ensues which leads to guns being fired. It leads to the death of Hope’s wife Maureen, played by Racheal McAdams.

That’s when Hope downward spiral starts. He’s unable to deal with his wife’s death and in short order sees everything he has crumble. And quickly those people around him desert him. He tried to fight again but simply gives up. This is one graphic scene in the film where Hope is just pummeled. Because of that Hope drinks heavily tries to kill himself by running his car into a tree. The house goes. The cars goes. His daughter is put into foster car.

Hope hits rock bottom. Ends up in a flop house. But tries to rebuild his life because he wants his daughter back.

He ends up in Tick Wills’ gym played by Forest Whitaker and tries to rebuild. For the rest of the story you’ll have to see the movie.

Gyllenhaal is just fantastic in this role. He really looks the role. You feel his pain with the death of his wife. The absolute despair of not knowing how to put things right. His complete helplessness as his life spins out of control. His anguish when he tries to reconnect with his daughter, Leila played by Oona Laurence (who is just great in the roll. The scenes where she finally gets to watch her father fight are just great).

There is also a very funny scene between Gyllenhaal and Whitaker on the rule of not swearing in the gym. There relationship is very well drawn. There isn’t an instant liking between the two. But there is a slow development of respect between the two of them.

I like that not everything is tied up in a neat bow by the end of the film. The person who murdered Hope’s wife is never brought to justice. The big fight between Hope and Ortiz ends very realistically.

Here's a little from the review in USA Today:
Call him “Joltin’ Jake” Gyllenhaal, because the actor adds needed presence and punch to the melodrama of Southpaw.

As champ-turned-chump Billy Hope, Gyllenhaal shines with the same intensity he showed in Jarhead and Nightcrawler, and performances from him and Forest Whitaker lift up a movie that goes a full 12 rounds of rope-a-dope with every boxing-movie story trope.
I really liked the movie and highly recommend it.

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