Southpaw: What You Need To Know
Jake Gyllenhall may not have seemed like the most obvious choice to play a world champion boxer, but for Antione Fuqua's film Southpaw the actor launched into a punishing workout schedule that reportedly included six hours of boxing training and 2,000 press-ups every day. After a well-received run in cinemas the film finally arrives in stores on Monday (November 23rd). Here's everything you need to know about it...
Who's in it?
As well as Jake Gyllenhall in the starring role, the film's impressive cast includes Rachel McAdams, Forrest Whitaker and Naomie Harris, while there are also appearances for former boxer-turned-actor Victor Ortiz and Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson.
What's the plot?
Gyllenhall stars as Billy Hope, an unbeaten champion boxer at the top of his game and with the world at his feet, but when tragedy strikes and his wife Maureen (McAdams) is killed in an accident, Billy's life begins to unravel faster than the tape underneath his boxing gloves. In the wake of his wife's death, his behaviour becomes erratic and before long child services step in to take his daughter Leila (Oona Laurence) into custody.
Depressed and heartbroken, Billy decides to enlist the help of trainer Tick Willis (Whittaker), the man who trained the only fighter he considers to have outboxed him in the ring. Willis is initially reluctant, still a little bitter at what he regards as an unfair decision by the ringside judges against his protege, but Billy is determined to impress, offering to sweep the floor in the gym and help train the youngsters under Tick's tutelage.
When he finally wins Tick around, Billy begins his journey on the long hard road back to the top, trying everything he can to regain custody of his daughter in the process.
Does it deliver?
Like a Mike Tyson uppercut. Anyone who remembers Gyllenhall from his early days in offbeat indie flicks like Donnie Darko will remember a slight, skinny young man, but his transformation here is nothing short of staggering, with an acting performance to match. Fuqua's depiction of the boxing world is far less glamorous than the stuff you'll have seen in the Rocky movies, but it's all the better for it and there's a gritty realism to Southpaw that reminds you a little of Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull.
The supporting cast is well chosen too; Whittaker is a class act and credit must also go to the young Oona Laurence, who looks to have a bright future ahead of her. The film was reportedly intended as a vehicle for Eminem, who dropped out in the early stages, but Gyllenhall more than fills his shoes here and puts in one of the best performances you'll have seen from him so far. Boxing fans will enjoy it the most, but there's plenty here for everyone else to enjoy too.