Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Movie Review: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005
A film by Clint Eastwood

The more I think about this movie, the more I love it. I am fully convinced that Clint Eastwood is becoming a better filmmaker with each passing year.

Million Dollar Baby is a movie about Frankie (Eastwood), a grizzled old "cut-man" who owns a boxing gym. He is the type of man who was old school when the old school was new school. Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) is a woman who wants Frankie to train her as a boxer, but being old school, Frankie won't. She's paid her dues at the gym for the next six months, so he'll let her stay, but he's not going to train her.

But because there won't be much of a movie if he doesn't, he does decide to train her. Maggie is all guts and determination and she really doesn't have anything else going for her in her life. Her family would be the definition of white trash, and Maggie is only one small but important step away from that. She has desire to be more.

To say more would really spoil the feel of this movie. Routinely funny and moving, "Million Dollar Baby" is a nearly perfect movie. Wherever you think the movie is going to go, it doesn't go there. "Million Dollar Baby" is not a movie about boxing, it is a movie about a boxer. There is a significant difference and the difference is likely what makes this movie so good.

Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank, and Clint Eastwood all turn in what may be the best work of their career and that is saying something. Everyone feels absolutely perfect as their characters and Swank in particular does a fantastic job in becoming Maggie Fitzgerald. It doesn't feel like Swank is playing a role, it feels like she is Maggie. The other women who Swank boxes against do a great job making Swank look like the real deal, so the praise really goes to everybody in the movie.

There are difficult decisions made in this movie and each one falls in line with what the characters might actually do. "Million Dollar Baby" does not take a wrong step once and this is a movie that actually surpasses any hype it has been given.

Grade: A

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