“So back in Chicago, I already talked about how we saw Trainwreck a couple hours after I got in. That was Wednesday. On Thursday, our movie du jour was an outdoor screening of Big Hero 6, held in one of Chi-town’s many many parks, and part of an ongoing program showing over 200 movies throughout the course of the summer. On the way home, we went over plans for the next day. Being new release Friday, I’d planned to catch one, maybe two, movies before killing time at the planetarium and/or aquarium until my buddy was free. He assured me that he had less work to get done, and bade me start with the planet(aqua)rium and then he’d join me for the movie. We went back and forth on what we wanted to see. Both of us really wanted to see Southpaw, but I at least knew that if I didnt see it that weekend, I’d catch it pretty quick. We let the scheduling gods figure it out for us. Everything turned out pretty equal so we just went with it.

Oh my God, this movie was so sooo good. A much stronger drama than you’d expect in a mainstream summer movie. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Billy Hope, a one time world champion boxer, who hits rock bottom after a series of very unfortunate events in his life. He then has to literally fight his way out of it. Yeah, we’ve seen variations of this a million times. Rocky. Million Dollar Baby. Warrior. And that’s just within the fighting world of sports. Still, the reason we do have so many of these films is because they are so damn compelling.

Gyllenhaal’s performance is garnering some very well deserved buzz. He is one of the modern masters of the transformative performance (see also: Christian Bale, Daniel Day-Lewis), and this was yet another great turn. He balanced a quiet reserve with unbridled rage as appropriate for his character in the specific moments. And of course, he had a stellar supporting cast including Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams, and Naomie Harris. Also, I seem to be raving about wonderful kid stars lately (see also: Infinitely Polar bear), so I have to add Oona Laurence to that list. A far more nuanced and dynamic range than I would expect from someone so young. Hell, at times, she even commanded the screen better than our star did.

As the trip went on, my buddy and I did find a few gripes. Some minor plot holes, some questionable choices, but they were all minor. The fact that we could nitpick about little details that only came up after the fact (meaning they didn’t interfere with our experience watching the film) is a good sign. If a movie is bad, these discussions would be over major pieces, or there’d be no discussion at all. This just proves that we wanted to talk about it because we enjoyed it and wanted to relive some of the movie magic. I’m actually kinda excited to add this to my movie collection in a couple months

Southpaw – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

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