Gender Roles - Men
Gender Roles - Men: 3 Stars
Billy Hope cuts a pretty familiar figure. He's a tough guy with a pretty quick temper, who's proven himself through strength and violence. But when all is said and done, Billy is more than just another punching bag who solves his problems with his fists. He descends into a brutal tailspin when he loses his wife, but at no point does this become a film about revenge. He passes on the opportunity to take out the man who killed his wife, and even walks away from those who have used and abused him without throwing a single punch. In the end, Billy makes his way back by humbling himself, returning to his roots and controlling his anger. It's unfortunate, however, that the ending is so focused on his ultimate success in the boxing ring, rather than his personal redemption.
Supporting Characters: 3 Stars
Southpaw has some memorable supporting characters. Billy's daughter, for example, has some toughness that takes her from grief and isolation, to anger and hatred, and ultimately brings her to a state of forgiveness. Although she's more of a plot device than a character, she's at least a sturdy and sypathetic plot device.
Likewise, Billy's trainer Tick Wills practices compassion at his inner city gym with a firm hand. He takes it upon himself to look out for the kids that don't have caring or dependable father figures at home, keeping them on the straight and narrow through discipline and tough love.
Both these characters add a compelling undercurrent to the film's overall message of heart and resilience.
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles - Women
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Gender Roles - Women: 2 Stars
Maureen is more than a typical trophy wife. She is Billy's rock and his protector. She manages his affairs, she guides his decisions and speaks bluntly to him about his limitations when no one else will. It's just a shame that she doesn't last long enough to leave a lasting impression on this film.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 2 Stars
Maureen has a lot of confidence - but it's hard to ignore the fact that most of this confidence comes from her status as Billy's wife. Her role is to look out for him, and it's hard to envision how this story would have played out if Billy had been the one who was murdered. Maureen doesn't seem to have enough personal talents or ambitions to get along without him. And that simple fact doesn't seem to bother her in the slightest.
Maureen always looks good, whether she's seated ringside during Billy's fights, lounging by the pool at their extravagant home, or getting ready for her last fundraiser at Billy's side. She may not play the role of a typical trophy wife, but by all accounts, she dresses and looks the part.
Plot: 1.5 Stars
Maureen doesn't have a large part in Southpaw. She plays the predictable role of a worried spouse and gives Billy a prescient warning about the "friends" he surrounds himself with. But for the most part, she leaves her greatest mark on the film when she leaves it. Her death is the catalyst that sets in motion everything that comes afterwards. She is a personification of Billy's love and rage and hope of redemption, but she doesn't do much besides provide this backdrop for Billy's story. Nothing in Southpaw pays homage to Maureen as her own person.
Character Development: 1.5 Stars
Southpaw does a pretty poor job of developing Maureen's character. We know that she's an orphan, based on a comment made by an announcer during the opening scenes. And we know that she's been married to Billy for over a decade, based on a casual comment she makes to Billy's promoter. But these small pieces of background information are forced into random strings of dialogue, rather than revealed through her character or emotional interactions with Billy. It's as if filmmakers wanted to give audiences a reason to care about her, without actually giving her the screen time necessary to build a connection. If they wanted her to be more of a presence, they could've kept her alive through flashbacks or other devices even after she'd been killed. But in so many ways it's easier to keep her memory pure and her relationship with Billy perfect and wholesome, as if that somehow intensifies Billy's tragedy. To the contrary, it turns it into something of a cliché.
Love: 2.5 Stars
The love story in Southpaw is almost mythical. Childhood sweethearts who've stood by each other through thick and thin. There's really only one real scene between them, when Maureen makes it clear that she's willing to tell Billy the truth even though she knows it will hurt him. But like most of the plotline in Southpaw, their watered down argument follows a distinct formula. Things are tense for a brief moment, but then return to a sort of idyllic peace. Their relationship is never truly tested, and Maureen doesn't survive long enough to show us how their relationship might have changed had Billy climbed back into the ring against her wishes.
Billy Hope is a champion boxer who grew up on the streets. His successful career has earned him a luxurious lifestyle for both himself and his family. But it all comes crashing down when his wife Maureen is murdered before his eyes. After losing his house, his daughter and his career, Billy must find and way to pick up the pieces and make his way back to the top.
Kelly is a labor law