We’ve seen the movies where sports stars overcome adversity for the final win. There’s no denying that Southpaw lacks these qualities either. But what makes this movie so different -so good- is Jake Gyllenhaal’s transformation into his character Billy Hope, an orphan turned heavyweight boxing champion.
Billy grew up in a Hell’s Kitchen orphanage with his now-wife Maureen, played by Rachel McAdams. They beat the system, got married, had a daughter, and rose up to fame with Billy’s success as a boxer. The film begins featuring their loving marriage and happy home life until rival boxer, Miguel Escobar (played by Miguel Gomez), threatens Billy’s boxing tile and family. While Billy rose up out of the system, his tactics dealing with anger weren’t able to mature as well. A hotel brawl between Hope and Escobar’s posses result in an accidental gun shot and death of Maureen Hope.
The devastating, tear-wrenching scene with Maureen dying in Billy’s arms is felt within all. Billy believes his fighting is to blame for Maureen’s death and goes on a downward spiral. He can’t handle life without her and turns back to his old habits of drugs and alcohol, leaving his career and daughter to take the brunt of his distress and misery.
The turning point of the movie and Billy’s bender occurs when he tries to end his suffering by driving while intoxicated and crashing his car in front of his family home. Hope’s terrified 11-year-old daughter Leila finds him unconscious and is able to call for help before she loses yet another parent in such a short time. While Billy realizes the error in his mistakes of drinking while driving and not being a stable father, he loses custody of his daughter and has trouble earning enough respect from the judge and the boxing community to prove his stability.
Southpaw’s tragedy is capitalized on when Billy Hope changes his ways and works hard to train, and fight to gain his daughter and career back. The beauty of this film isn’t the result, rather the journey audiences watch Billy endure and the raw emotion shared between he and Leila. The passion expressed within each of the characters is ultimately what differentiates Southpaw from other boxing sport movies and makes this a worthwhile film.
This review was drafted by Olivia from dallasdwilawyer.org.