Million Dollar Baby Reviews
Maggie, Hilary Swank, is a small town girl from the Ozarks in Missouri with dreams of making it big as a professional boxer. Before she can do that she needs to convince Frankie, Clint Eastwood, an elderly gym owner to train her. Frankie is ultimately convinced by , Morgan Freeman, and with his help Maggie quickly climbs the ranks becoming a bright new star on the female boxing scene. She has to contend with her rotten family headed by matriarch Margo Martindale while Frankie struggles to connect with his daughter via letter for reasons left to the imagination. Will they be able to overcome these problems in time for Maggie to triumph at her biggest fight yet? Spoiler alert: She becomes paralyzed after receiving a dirty hit from an opposing fighter and Frankie kills her upon request before making an ambiguous exit.
The film is definitely a tearjerker as crowd favorite Clint Eastwood suffers under the weight of having a close family member refuse to connect with him and seeing his surrogate daughter figure face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The characters are well written though and our tears are earned as we see the hardworking underdog Maggie be shut down each time she rises up the ranks and as her relationship with Frankie grows closer there is a palpable connection felt between them. The dialogue used is very deliberate as Maggie is a â~hick' but an intelligent, worthy of respect young woman who treats those around her kindly. Eastwood doesn't say much but that's in line with how his character should be, a stern but loving paternal figure who suffers silently as his hopes are crushed. Having Morgan Freeman provide voice-over at many points doesn't hurt and his final lines in the final combined with the devastating finishing scene are heartrending.
Swank who often cops a lot of flak for being a two-time Academy award winner is very good here as she plays the underdog very well with an edge of toughness too her character's warmth that pulls the film back from being saccharine sweet. Her openness and friendly demeanor are enough to let you believe the character is as lovely as the film wants you to believe she is and that makes her easy to root for in addition to strangling your heartstrings when she suffers. The pairing of herself and the understated, depressed Eastwood is wonderful as she makes him a happier person and he teaches her how to face the demons in her life before providing her with long lasting relief. She deserved recognition for this performance when considering how weak this year's Best Actress field was and a large amount of the film rests on her shoulders, fortunately she is able to handle that pressure.
This is a very good film with a star-studded cast, good direction and an emotionally affecting story. Out of all of the films they could have chosen I am glad they picked this because Eastwood and Swank are gold on screen together and the film engages it's audiences more than some previous Best Picture winners. No it's not an all-time great in terms of Best Picture winners like Gone With the Wind (1939) and It Happened One Night (1934) but it might be one of the strongest to come out of the 2000s decade and that's saying something about the workmanlike abilities of Clint Eastwood as an actor and a director. This is one to watch with lots of people around so as not to remain depressed after watching it but it makes you cheer and cry at once a unique feat for a film to achieve.
Million Dollar Baby
Eastwood makes it look easy. It's as simple as that, over the years, watching him blend in, in all sorts of genre there never seems any doubt how much he adores the cinema. There is mutual love and respect, if there is sincerity in Eastwood's methods, the response is equally charming. Magnanimous is his vision and is exactly what he gets. But above all what fascinates me the most is how he reserves his persona on both on and off screen, I hardly remember yelling him ever on screen, Freeman had to jump in and point out, "You think she can hear you from here?" The answer is yes. She does; she may not follow it but she does.
The cathartic equation of this trio is the root of the film. With humor as slick as their body language- few lines from Baruchel doesn't fit in appropriately though- and flamboyancy on their rhythm that makes you scream for its awesomeness, it makes you want to warp back to your childhood days, never has someone loved something such unconditionally. It is for all the drama we crave for, we are not aware of where it can take us, but somehow we have been craving for it.
This has never been a sports genre for me, I couldn't care less about those knockout punches, I am waiting for Swank to go back to her corner and tangle more with Eastwood's vision. Haggis- the screenwriter- has written a complete script, swooping in all the drama or even humor- that you might think isn't essential to the storytelling- "forming a circle" gets a whole new definition. With an incredibly intense narration by Freeman, few poetic lines are the least bit of metaphor you are going to get, the real content is hidden beneath those questions that he keeps asking us; a smart move by the writer as it factors a lot on advancing the storytelling.
And mind you, Freeman is not just a narrator, everyone gets one last shot (Eastwood gets Swank's dream and Swank gets her family) in this film and you cannot exclude him from it. Swank, the one that dares to dream, is confidently appealing on her terms, her bizarre fascination of ending a fight within first round, her petty questions and neglecting the orders constantly, is the window which she never lets go of.
Eastwood as her father figure grows more than that you can aspire for. Yes, it was anticipated that their chemistry would be the heart of the film but to extend this friendship on such a scale still melts me down; Mo Cuishle he calls her. The first training that he gives her where he snatches the punching bag and then shuts her down only to regret it later and give her that punching back again; that bit itself says a lot about the film. Call it a trash talk or flirt talk, their conversations are brimmed with humor that makes you weep hard than it makes you tickle, those moments are Million Dollar Baby.
Apart from Morgan Freeman's wonderful voice and narration, there was little about this film which appealed or held my interest. There were too many slow, drawn-out scenes resulting in a depressing feel throughout.
AAW GGND 1001