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Plot: Wanting to learn from the best, aspiring boxer Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) wants Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) to train her. At the outset, he flatly refuses saying he has no interest in training a girl. Frankie leads a lonely existence, alienated from his only daughter and having few friends. Runtime: 132 min Release Date: 15 Dec 2004
Flawlessly written, acted and directed, MILLION DOLLAR BABY is being hymned and wreathed by the critics as the best film of 2004. They're absolutely right. "An old master's new masterpiece," the NEW YORK TIMES said in a review that was more of an open love letter to Eastwood than anything remotely resembling a critical analysis of the film itself. For once such honey-tongued critical adulation is fully merited. Dark, edgy, subtle and at times emotionally devastating, MILLION DOLLAR BABY represents the apotheosis of Eastwood's art - the most lucid and intelligently limned <more>
expression of his philosophy of the outsider, the noble loners whose personal codes of honour set them both above and apart from the compromised, corrupt societies they inhabit. The Boxing Ring As Metaphor For Life is a hoary trope almost as old as Hollywood itself, employed to varying effect in films as diverse as THE CHAMP, GOLDEN BOY, REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT, THE GREAT WHITE HOPE, FAT CITY, ROCKY and RAGING BULL. In MILLION DOLLAR BABY, though, Eastwood the director brings a fresh eye and an entirely fresh approach to both the setting and characterisations, virtually re-inventing this venerable sub-genre rather than simply recycling its conventions. Eastwood the actor is in fine form - a commanding if increasingly weather-beaten presence - as gym owner Frankie Dunn. A case study in loneliness, Dunn's creased face is a map of places you'd rather not go to and disappointment has clearly been a life-long companion. Co-stars Hilary Swank and the magnificent Morgan Freeman, playing Frankie's unlikely protegee Maggie Fitzgerald and friend "Scrap-Iron" Dupris, give what are without question the best performances of their respective careers: deftly underplayed, their roles provide emotionally overwhelming impacts more powerful than anything glimpsed in the film's riotous fight sequences. Forming an iron triangle forged from mutual dependence, Dunn and Dupris school the impulsive but untutored Maggie in both the techniques of boxing and the tradecraft of survival in a world pre-disposed to pulverise individualism. The canvas-floored square ring becomes the arena in which all three characters confront their various demons, battling for both victory and personal redemption. Paul Haggis' screenplay is itself a masterwork, improving on its source material without betraying the concise but compelling situations and superbly drawn characters found in F.X. Toole's short stories. And, finally, Eastwood the composer's elegiac but unobtrusive score is a minor classic of its kind, a requiem to both lost souls and lost causes. MILLION DOLLAR BABY is not only the best film released in 2004 it is also the most fully realised and richly textured major studio movie of the decade.
The movie is excellent. Hillary Swank deserves to receive the Oscar for her performance. I haven't seen much of her lately and am so glad that she was picked for this movie. She seems a natural for this role. Like she didn't even have to act, she just let her own emotions take charge. She stole every scene when she was on. Clint Eastwood is one heck of an actor and his directing of movies is even better. He is 75 years old and hope he has another 10 years of good movie making in him. Morgan Freeman is a great actor who never seems to receive the recognition he deserves. Tell others to <more>
see it because it isn't in the top 10 listing of viewed movies last week. I'm concerned the subject matter is too deep for most people and it will be pulled to make room for some lame-brain movie like Fat Albert.
If anyone had doubts about the genius of Clint Eastwood, they should run, not walk, to see "Million Dollar Baby", perhaps the best movie that came out of Hollywood is past year.Mr. Eastwood has that rare quality in choosing an odd story to bring to the screen. With this film he accomplishes what could be, perhaps, the best movie about boxing in history. In the first place, the story by F. X. Toole, in which the movie is based, is an odd choice. We have seen, so far, men boxers, but there is a world out there where women boxers compete in this sport that is not well known, or not <more>
commonly seen. The adaptation by Paul Haggis is excellent."Million Dollar Baby" has a rhythm of its own, seldom seen in boxing formula pictures. Thanks to Tom Stern almost black and white cinematography, this sordid world of second class gyms in the poor areas of the inner city, makes the film more interesting in its texture. Enhancing it all is the great musical score that Mr. Eastwood, a jazz enthusiast, has created. Music has always complimented Mr. Eastwood's work, but never in such a way as in this movie.If you haven't seen the film, please stop reading now.Frankie Dunn, is a man who has trained boxing champions. He is a man at odds with himself. He has demons within him that are tearing away at his soul. We watch him going to mass on a daily basis, but does that qualify him as a devout Catholic? Not according to Father Horvak, who sees a troubled soul in search of redemption.Frankie's letters comes back, returned from a daughter that wants nothing to do with him. Frankie, at the beginning of the film, loses the services of one his better boxers because a richer competitor is willing to pay the fighter much more. Frankie keeps the older Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris employed in the gym because he feels guilty in having let this former boxer down at the highest point of Scrap's career.Into this world comes Maggie Fitzgerald. She is a young woman who wants to make it as a fighter; she comes from a white trash background and everything is against her. The only reason she has been allowed in the all-male gym is because she has paid six months worth of membership. We watch Maggie as she struggles on her own without any help from Frankie, the man she would like to interest in coaching her. Frankie realizes there is potential in this young woman, who he sees on a daily basis practicing, and he relents. Maggie proves she follows his instructions well. Then we watch her progress as she wins fight after fight until the million dollar fight with the vicious title holder.The ironic twist toward the end of the movie arrives out of nowhere; it shakes us up because it was totally unexpected. It makes Frankie and Maggie become father and daughter. Because of the guilt he feels in his own life, Frankie does the right thing in accepting the responsibility of the situation.The ending is the only thing that feels a bit manipulative in the film, although it's handled with a lot of taste, as it would have been worse in the hands of another, less capable director. The only other complain is that Mr. Eastwood speaks in a whisper, which distracts from what is going on, as we strain our ears to catch every nuance of the brilliant dialog. Also, the voice over by Morgan Freeman's character is at times, unintelligible.This is a film totally dominated by Clint Eastwood. As an actor, he brings to the role total credibility as the tormented soul inside Frankie. Hilary Swank makes a brilliant Maggie, the ambitious girl that gets much more than what she bargained for. Ms. Swank has the best moment of her career after her work in "Boys Don't Cry". Working with the right elements, Ms. Swank is an actress that works with little gestures to achieve her input in the character she is playing.Morgan Freeman is excellent as the beaten Scrap, a man who "could have been a contender". He underplays this character with sensational results. Brian O'Byrne, a theater actor who has been seen in two important plays this year in the New York stages, makes an impression as Father Hovark, who seems to understand Frankie. Margo Martindale is convincing as Maggie's mother.Sometimes it takes a lot for a film to be good. All the right elements were gathered by Clint Eastwood for this movie. It makes one wonder what will his next project be, or if he can surpass the milestone he created with "Million Dollar Baby".
I don't know why, but I went into the theater thinking I was about to see a female Rocky Balboa kind of deal. I left the theater in a daze. Overwhelmed by the simple truth of its conclusion. My hat to Clint Eastwood. What an extraordinary career. An artist of enormous proportions so well camouflaged behind a shy smile and a charming, clumsy attitude. I remember focusing on Clint Eastwood through a very different lens after sitting through "Pale Rider" a mythological, lyrical western. Actors love him because he, clearly, doesn't lie to them, doesn't kiss their asses. He <more>
quite simply gives them room to maneuver. Even someone like Meryl Streep, felt freer and capable to stretch herself all the way to Italy under his wing. Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Jude Law, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman yes mostly men but there was also, other than Meryl Streep, Genevieve Boujold. Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney and now Hillary Swank with a performance that not even "Boys don't Cry" could predict. The film is a triumph in every department. My stomach ached from feeling. That's a compliment Mr. Eastwood. Thank you very much.
I just got home from watching this movie, and it has left me thinking.I personally think the movie was wonderful. I've read reviews where people say that the euthanasia was unnecessary, etc. However, I feel that the euthanasia was extremely important to the film. Once Maggie could no longer fight, she had nothing else to live for. Her family was trash. She was happy, and wanted to die happy. I think it had a happy ending.I'm tired of movies that have perfect endings and the ending is exactly what you expect when you walk into the theater. This movie proves that happy endings can come <more>
in a variety of ways, just depending on how you look at it.
In a word this film is brilliant. The excellent script , the masterful direction and the strong performances catapult it into the higher echelon of Oscar winning films. The story centres around Frankie Dunn played by Clint Eastwood , who was deservedly placed on the shortlist for Best Actor a boxing trainer who has just lost his latest prospect to a rival promoter. Just before he is about to throw in the towel or so to speak , he encounters Maggie Fitzgerald an ambitious female boxer who asks Frankie to help train her . At first Frankie is not so sure ,he doesn't want to venture into <more>
the world of female boxing at his age. However Maggies drive forces him to take take notice . Soon afterwards he takes her under his wing and trains her for the big time.After a rocky start they become good friends , she even takes him to Missouri to show her mother the new house she had bought for her from the money she won in various fights and tournaments. However her ungrateful mother throws it back in her face leaving Maggie to seek comfort in Frankie. As time goes on she takes part in more and more fights and even adopts the Gaelic term Mo Chuisle which consequently means My Darling . Very soon she becomes famous among the Irish supporters who fly the green , white and gold at every match.The films strong point is in the fact that the film is not primarily based on the popular sport of boxing. Many themes run parallel to this central event .It is because of these themes that the film is so good . As I said before the acting is top-notch . Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her excellent performance her second prize for such a short career .Morgan Freeman also won an Oscar for his supporting role?narrator of the film . Although this is not his best performance it is a worthy accolade for a man who has previously been denied the big prize. If Jamie Foxx had not been in the running , Clint Eastwood would have a good shot at winning Best Actor but his awards for best director and best film more than make up for this. The film was also denied the best adapted screenplay award which went to Sideways, which I have not seen so I cannot comment on whether it deserved it or not although director Alexander Payne has made such films as Election and About Schmidt .Although this is one of my favourite films it will not suit all tastes. People who dislike boxing because of its violent nature should steer well clear as the boxing in this film is of a graphic nature which earned it its 16 rating in Ireland .Overall this is an excellent film so catch it if you can.
It would be difficult to imagine a more perfect trio of performers the likes of Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, and Morgan Freeman in their respective roles in the emotionally-charged "Million Dollar Baby." My favorite scenes were the early sequences in which Maggie Swank visits the dowdy boxing gym and co-opts Eastwood's crusty boxing trainer Frankie into becoming her mentor. Along with the veteran, retired boxer Eddie, played by Freeman, the performances were as electric as the Ali shuffle.In the overall arc of the story of "Million Dollar Baby," there were three <more>
extraneous subplots: 1 Frankie's visits to church and his talks with the priest; 2 the story of the mentally-challenged young man named Danger, who appears in the gym and is taunted by the boxers; and 3 Maggie's family members introduced in two scenes filled with such vulgarity that much of the film's hard-earned credibility was lost. Not only would the film have worked effectively without the subplots, it would have been a much better film without them.While Eastwood's direction was superb, much credit should also go to the designers, especially the stylish work with lighting. I cannot recall a film as dimly lit as this one, and the subdued lighting contributed substantially to the characters and mood evoked in this sensitive film. The three main performances were standouts. But this film was also a very successful team effort.
How long has it been since Clint had 2 good movies in a row? How many Blood Works and Space Cowboys must we endure before he pulls out a hat trick like this? After the masterpiece that was Mystic River, this was a refreshing surprise to see the old master do it back to back. It is so rare to see a sports movie that is about....sports! But this did it with wit and sentiment that was never cheap or cheezy.Hilary Swank proved once again that she actually has acting chops and isn't just that chick who played that chick who thought she was a dude. This is the real deal. Morgan Freeman was <more>
solid as ever. But all praise to where it is due: Clint.Kudos on Clint's directing, his stirring score and his understated, but superb acting.
boxers' blues- one of the more notable points in Eastwood's career (by Quinoa1984)
Something a friend of mine talked with me about after he and I had seen the film was a good point about the film's dramatic structure which prompted me to see the film a second time, aside from knowing intrinsically it would get doused in Oscar liquid . It's like a darker, slightly harsher Aesop tale, with simplicity in its message ingrained into it, but with power none-the-less. I wouldn't say even after a second viewing that Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood's latest film as one of the few remaining Hollywood auteurs, is one of his very best films I don't know if I <more>
may be one of only a few that found Mystic River more shattering on the whole . Still, I think that at the least with these two latest films, Eastwood has reached on his own level the heights of one of his great dramatic influences- director Vittorio De Sica. His films were filled with an intuitive touch of humanity, observing where heart lies within people, and where it doesn't. Aside from the darker themes that the film brings up, it's also at the core a simple tale of those who observe who has heart, kindness, and who doesn't.Eastwood is better than usual as Frankie, a trainer and owner of a boxing gym. His friend and observer of the film's details, Scrap Morgan Freeman, supreme in his understated performance , was once a boxer too, but with going too far with a fight, he became half-blind, but given a job and residence by a guilt-ridden Frankie who is so for that and a few other things, some kept perfectly ambiguous . When he loses his boxer for being 'over-protective', a woman, Maggie Hilary Swank, intuitive as always in her scenes , asks to be trained. After much convincing, Frankie takes her on, and little by little, he gets looser on his strict terms of not being questioned with his teachings. Then, as Maggie finally reaches the top, there comes what is called in screen writing as the second turning point, and the story turns its last act into the contemplative, the deep, and the tragic.One thing that grabbed me even more so on a second viewing was that the theme of what boxing does to the human spirit and psyche is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, as Scrap observes, it's "un-natural", to be moving around getting right in the face of pain and not running away, and how it is not a very glamorous 'sport' at all a theme that makes it more worthy than a lessor boxing movie would give . On the other hand, it also goes in hand with the theme of having heart; the two supporting characters of Danger in a satisfactory performance by Baruchel and Shawrelle Mackie , who are a major contrast. I really liked how Eastwood and writer Paul Haggis from a book of short stories dealt with the sub-plot to go so well with the main plot of Frankie, Scrap and Maggie. Another exceptional scene that makes this point clearer- and more resonant as the final act unfolds- is when Maggie gets a treat on her 33rd birthday from Scrap, and he tells his story about how he lost sight in his eye. In this scene, both of the actors are brilliant in their tone and reactions, it makes for one of the more meaningful, and dramatically compelling, pieces of the story.I wouldn't say, as I said, that the film is entirely flawless which is arguable, I know . One problem I had both times I saw it, though not overall, was with Morgan Freeman's narration. For the most part it is insightful and narratively correct, but unlike Freeman's key narration role as the key observer in Shawshank Redemption , not every line seemed very crucial for the story. It is a simple story with simpler, sometimes philosophical notes of narration, but I sometimes wished that everything had to be outlined - one can sense things right in Eastwood's face and eyes while Freeman talks gruffly behind him. And, arguable still, the sheer simplicity of the film does leave it so that one can't figure out parts of the story for themselves.Never-the-less, the film is an extraordinary stroke of skill for Eastwood as a director. If one can't say that his performance is one of his very best, one could say that his direction, his use of the camera via DP Tom Stern , is at a peak. The way he uses his strokes of lighting and darkness, and with the way he can control the camera and not be un-appropriately flashy, makes it extremely professional. That he's been known to shoot scenes in one or two takes makes for such a sweetly spontaneous result, however totally controlled. Indeed, I agree whole-heartedly with one critic who said "to call this an old man's film is a sincere compliment", especially on the craftsman side. A-