DRAMA; 2hr 4min
STARRING: Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams
Eye to eye: Whitaker (left) and Gyllenhaal
When his redemptive story begins, Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal), boxing’s world light-heavyweight champion, is on a high at Madison Square Garden, with his hot wife and life’s love, Maureen (McAdams), protectively by his side and their 11-year-old daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence), tucked up at their magnificent home. “The three of us,” Maureen tells him later. “That’s it. That’s all that matters.” For that moment. But in the wake of a tragedy, Billy is physically, mentally, emotionally, professionally and financially broken, and Gyllenhaal, who trained like the clappers for the role, is a crazed grizzly blundering through his pain.
Training Day director Antoine Fuqua hits out hard with Billy’s descent: having lost literally everything — especially custody of Leila — the only direction for him to go is up a steep flight of bare-bones stairs to Wills Gym and the tough love of trainer Tick (Whitaker). As a story of healing, with boxing the means of both destruction and renewal, Southpaw doesn’t revise any sports-movie rules. But no matter: Gyllenhaal, who brings so much thought and care to his every performance, commands this arena with hulking and ravaged regard.