I saw this back in August… I think it was August. There hasn’t been much hype about it that I have heard but it deserves it. Jake Gyllenhaal smashed it, and I would go as far to say it was an Oscar worthy performance. I didn’t know much about the story going in which was refreshing. According to Steve (he saw if with me, you’d get on well) there was a spoiler in the trailer which luckily I missed.
HUGE SPOILER ALERT (scroll passed the next capitalised sentence for safety).
The death of Maureen Hope (played by Rachael McAdams) was a big shock. I really didn’t see this coming. This is the spoiler in the trailer and I’m lucky I did see it beforehand. It’s a big deal to be honest as this is the key to Billy’s downfall as a professional and a father.
Let’s talk about the brilliant Jake Gyllenhaal. I have loved this man’s work for a long time since seeing Source Code. He can deliver such diverse performances from his grimy abusive character in Night Crawler to the switched on professional detective in Prisoners. Being trained by former professional boxer Terry Claybon, Gyllenhaal managed to gain back the 30lbs he lost for his previous role PLUS an extra 15. The fitness plan included a mere 2,000 sit-ups a day… easy.
As impressive as Gyllenhaal and his abs may be, the film was carried heavily by the relationship between Billy and his daughter. No child performance can surely be more breath taking than that delivered by Oona Laurence. The 13 year old actress sets the emotional theme throughout the film so effectively going from a cute, clever, happy daughter to an angry girl resenting her father. I really believed her performance, and as great as the film was it needed this to separate it from being remembered as something about a boxer and make it something unforgettable.
I suppose I have one real issue with the film. I’m not sure why 50 cent had to be cast, I’m simply not a fan. He wasn’t bad in all honesty but I still can’t see why he was chosen. By the end I will admit I was disappointed we didn’t see Billy’s fist meet his face. Can’t win ’em all. Regardless of that this is an amazing film. Anyone disagree or have any other thoughts? Do let me know.
In fact while it’s on my mind, listen out for Eminem’s soundtrack it’s truly class. It sets the mood perfectly when it plays (as I’m sure you can imagine). Apparently Eminem was originally hoped to play the boxer as director Brad Peyton loved his performance in 8 Mile… fair enough I say.
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