Southpaw is the latest film from director Antoine Fuqua. If you're into entertaining R rated action flicks (going off of American classifications, of course), you've more than likely seen a film or two of his. His latest film finds aggressive boxer Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) in a very low state of life. After rising up to become a champion, Billy's life as a husband, a father and a boxer comes plummeting down. Without delving too much into spoilers, an event occurs one night at a charity event that leads to Billy being put on trial for the guardianship of his daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence). Due to his aggression, grief and occupation, the court doesn't deem him worthy to raise her, so he begins to fight not only in the ring, but also for his daughter.
Because of how well the relationships between these characters are portrayed on screen, when shitty things begin to happen in this man's life, and a heck of a lot of shitty things do in fact happen, you can really feel his frustration. His anger bleeds off of the screen and it creates quite an emotional experience. For the entire first half of this movie, I was honest to God on the brink of tears. The entire time! Screenwriter Kurt Sutter does such a phenomenal job at bringing these characters to life and getting us to care about them, and the actors truly make the experience worthwhile.
Rachel McAdams, while not playing too major of a role, shines, her performance absolutely incredible and completely heartbreaking. The final scene she shares with Gyllenhaal's character got my eyes swelling up, both of their performances taking my breath away. Another actress in this movie that stood out for me was Gyllenhaal's character's daughter, played by Oona Laurence. For a child actor, she's one of the best around, or at least it appears that way after watching her kill it on screen today. Her relationship with Gyllenhaal is believable and natural, and there's never a line that wasn't delivered poorly. Has Hollywood found their next big child actor? I'd say there's a chance.
To sum up, Southpaw is a boxing movie that takes a bunch of different clichés and somehow turns them into something fresh and exciting, and also providing us with an emotional core to the story and plenty of insane boxing sequences helps as well. That Gyllenhaal sure can act.