I first heard about Southpaw years ago, when it was said to be Eminem’s follow up performance to his 2002 film, 8 Mile. Like 8 Mile, it was meant to be semi-autobiographical, with boxing being the story device in the film, but the actual struggles going on with the character reflecting what was going on in his own life at the time. Due to various reasons, he ended up pulling out of the project after years of development, and instead they got Jake Gyllenhaal for the lead.
The trailer for the film looked great, and the marketing material was on point, but then again, all they really needed was that one film still of Gyllenhaal in the ring looking ripped to shreds, as he looked like a beast. So going in I was pretty excited to hopefully see this generations Rocky, or Raging Bull. Sadly though, it was a little messy to reach those heights, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it.
Every story is about going from A to B, B to C, C to D, and then finally D to E, and around that time the story has finished, and hopefully in a way that feels satisfying. My biggest issue with the film though was point B to C. It just didn’t feel believable. How could someone go from getting 30 million dollar 3 fight deals, to suddenly losing every single thing he owns in the space of months, and finds himself living in a cheap rat hole of an apartment. Sure it works for the story they want to tell, but it didn’t feel right.
For a fighter to be 43 and 0, means he would already be pretty rich, and he seemed to have the right people around him to make sure the money was being spent correctly. Also even with your assets frozen you’re unlikely to be forced into getting a menial job just to survive and prove that you are capable to looking after your daughter. Other than that pretty major story flaw, everything else I really liked. The boxing was frantic, the acting great, the directing solid, and the rest of the writing given a pass mark, and though a good film, it just wasn’t good enough to be great.
8 out of 10 from me!!!