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Curtis (50 Cent) Jackson, right, and Jake Gyllenhaal in a film about boxing and mistreatment, and how it can cause a human’s soul to be too comfortable on the canvas.

Scott Garfield

2 out of 4 stars

Written by
Kurt Sutter
Directed by
Antoine Fuqua
Starring
Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Curtis (50 Cent) Jackson, Oona Laurence, Rachel McAdams
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English

Originally conceived as a vehicle for rapper Eminem, Southpaw – think an 8 Mile-long Rocky, directed by Antoine Fuqua – stars a bulked-up and compelling Jake Gyllenhaal as Billy Hope, a prize fighter battered by gloved fists and some of life's hardest conceivable knocks.

He rages and broods, beating the odds as he beats himself up, too. Orphaned as a boy, he is brutally sucker-punched as an adult when his precocious daughter (played by special young actress Oona Laurence) is taken from his custody.

The melodrama is uncomfortably high; the checked-box plot is manipulative.

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Sweaty and bloody as it is, Southpaw is not so much a film about boxing as it is a meditation on mistreatment, and how it can cause a human's soul to be too comfortable on the canvas.

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