on 11 February 2008
I have only recently viewed this film and two days on, I am still deeply affected and moved by the story. That surely is the sign of a great film maker (Eastwood) and script.
The story begins as a typical yarn about a young woman from the wrong side of the tracks who has a dream, a relentless determination and self-belief to make something of herself through boxing. She persuades the grizzly trainer played by Clint Eastward to take her on and Morgan Freeman narrates with his hallmark understated, commanding tones.
The film knocks the wind out of you when it takes a turn that is completely unexpected and leaves you numbed with shock as the tragic events unfurl.
The performances by all the lead characters are superb and the film's impact will stay with you for a long time.
on 24 December 2005
Hilary Swank was the star of this film. Her acting was fantastic, as she seemed to judge every aspect of her performance perfectly. Additionally you couldn't help but feel for her, as you got little insights into her poverty but also, her characters determination. Morgan Freeman also gave an excellent performance. Clint Eastwood was strong but I found at times his character was a little predictable and not as appealing. However, one of the most interesting aspects was Eastwood's relationship with his daughter and Swank's relationship with her own family. There was the feeling that each of the two main characters fulfilled a role that had long been absent, although this wasn't "corny" whatsoever :O) Merely touching. The ease and rapport between Swank and Eastwood also made them absolutely believable as characters and 'partners'.
The film wasn't what I expected at all, but I found it very fulfilling. At the end it was quite haunting, not least because of the twists towards the end. It was steady as well, not lingering for longer than necessary on details but telling the story well. The other chracters in the film also demanded sympathy and revulsion, but all were interesting and relevent characters in the story.
The ending was haunting but incredibly poignant. This film was impressive, excellently crafted and definately worthwhile seeing, not least for the excellent performances of the cast.
on 17 July 2005
Having just this minute finished watching this film, I have rushed upstairs to review this remarkable film. I really though Eastwood as a director would never surpass the job he did on Bridges of Madison County, turning a middle age housewife's novella into a engaging and beautiful film, but he has surpassed this. Million Dollar Baby really encompasses you completely and manages to break your heart, before it finishes. Swank deserved the Oscar like no woman before her, and I am thinking here of Theron and Berry who are mere featherweights in comparison. Eastwood has a golden touch, on picking stories, in picking his cast, in the direction, the cinematography, and most of all making a picture to grab you mind body and soul. Thank you for this film, particularly in the world today which seems filled with mediocrity.
This was a multi Oscar winning movie, so I expected empty headed Hollywood glitz and show. Boy was I wrong. This movie is a treat. From the spoken opening by the ever reliable Morgan Freeman to the closing shot which may or may not be Clint Eastwood, it is bold, brave, unpredictable and wholly satisfying. What if it is about boxing, and female boxing at that? That is not the core of this film. Its all about relationships, redemption and revelation. Clint finally plays his age and it suits his looks. Worn, haggard and world weary. Freeman can do this role better than anyone, but don't let his laidback style fool you. He is at the top of his game. The plaudits go to an outstanding performance by Hilary Swank, she cannot have made more than a dozen movies, but two Oscars tells you all you need to know about her talent. A performance which takes her from "no account white trash" to heroine in a staggeringly powerful performance. This is a truly classic movie, it has moments of comedy, high tension, drama, black humour and genuine emotion. Not manufactured emotion, but one where you feel for all the characters. Brilliant writing, direction, sparing score, and top notch acting keep you going right to the harrowing end. A brilliant emotional rollercoaster. Outstanding.
Million Dollar Baby is a quite wonderful piece of work from Clint Eastwood. It is quite unlike any other boxing movie previously seen.
There is a superb script by Paul Haggis who has recently written and directed Crash to much acclaim.
Direction here though is by Mr Eastwood himself and it is not hard to see why he won the Best Director Oscar for this.
His acting as Frank, the grizzled manager, is also fine and must rank as one of his best performances. Hilary Swank as Maggie, the female fighter, is also fantastic and brings the character completely to life. Another deserved Oscar-winning performance.
Morgan Freeman provides top support and Clint also wrote the music for this.The movie lasts over two hours but the time just flies in.
This really is a 'must see' movie.
on 23 March 2008
Clint struck gold here. Rarely does a film take the time to build characters to the extent where you can feel their emotion and read their thoughts. This does that extremely well and although some might complain that the start is slow, the whole point is one of building character and putting it into the context of the film so that relationships can be formed - rather than what happens so often, when personnel just drift in and out with little or no explanation.
And the rewards are reaped throughout with a totally cohesive piece of work which, without resorting to spoilers, twists and turns via an incredible piece of writing and direction. The chemistry between Swank and Eastwood is at times both gritty and magnetic. I'm saying no more but try not to find out too much about this movie and the story before you watch it and simply enjoy a very emotional and paradoxical ride.
on 28 November 2005
The world is cruel. Million Dollar Baby underlines this theme over and over again: from Clint Eastwood's returned letters to Hilary Swank's unjust fate, we learn, the world is cruel. This is an incredible movie about two people that live on nothing but their dreams, and how they handle their realities. The ending will depress the hell out of you, but you'll feel like a better person for having seen this film....and glad that you aren't a boxer.
on 10 March 2006
Clint Eastwood has directed by far his best film to date. Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank and Eastwood are all convincing in their respective parts and the initial plot is fairly predictable but enjoyable enough to keep you interested. What is intriguing is the character development of all three as the film develops and the interplay between these actors. There is enough dry humour throughout but the film comes into its own when a twist is introduced and we really see the real character's emerge and having to deal with their demons. At this point, I was overcome emotionally several times as the film began to wind towards its conclusion. It is powerful stuff but doesn't tread too far in becoming too convoluted a story and deserved all the accolades it reaped.
on 4 April 2005
There's an old movie trailer cliche in which the anonymous voiceover used to promise an audience that 'You'll laugh! You'll cheer! You'll cry!' Of course that was never really the case but as applied to Million Dollar Baby for once that cliched voice turns out to be telling no more than the simple truth. For Million Dollar Baby is a magnificent example of powerhouse moviemaking that leaves you emotionally exhausted.
'Baby' boasts a trio of well developed and engaging characters, a memorable story about a wannabee boxer seeking her shot and a unifying theme about love, sacrifice and the meaning of life. Working from a brilliant script by Paul Haggis, Clint's confident, understated direction doesn't put a foot wrong and the noir-ish lighting evokes a tremendous atmosphere, a sense in which simple acts of friendship and kindness between the characters are the only thing keeping back the darkness. The score (also by Clint) is minimalist and haunting and the actors performances are off the scale.
Watching Hilary Swank as Maggie Fitzgerald you have to kick yourself to believe that you're watching an actress. As a big-hearted girl seeking her chance Swank is 100% persuasive and her boxing scenes are frighteningly convincing (it's with a mild sense of awe that one learns that prior to this Hilary was best known as a skinny underwear model for Calvin Klein!). Equally as good is Morgan Freeman as Scrap, a former boxer of Frankie Dunn's (as played by Eastwood) and Frankie's best friend. Scrap narrates the film in voiceover (ala 'Shawshank Redemption') and one of the many pleasures of this movie is the collective 'Aha!' on the part of the audience when the receipient of his voiceover is finally identified.
All of which brings us to 74 year old Clint Eastwood who not only directed, co-produced and wrote the music but also played the lead role of gym manager Frankie Dunn. Quite simply, Eastwood gives the best performance of his career here and I'll give you an example of how great he is. When I saw the film at the cinema a lot of people around me were quite evidently crying. As for me, although upset and deeply moved by events, I wasn't quite there. What finally did it was a scene between Frankie and his priest. As Frankie wrestles with a terrible dilemma the priest tells him that 'If you do this thing - you'll be lost forever'. I won't give anything else away except to say that the depth of Eastwood's response was so powerful that it was enough to move me to tears as well. Great movie, simple as that.
on 21 February 2005
Clint Eastwood lopes along with a stooped unsteadiness as the crusty trainer who reluctantly agrees to train his first "girlie" for the ring. His trademark rasp, developed in westerns has now officially lapsed into a sort of wheeze. But it works wonderfully well for the character Eastwood plays in MILLION DOLLAR BABY. It could easily be the best performance of his career, worthy of an Oscar nomination -- at least.
PLOT: The boxer underdog battles her way into the championship ranks -- accompanied by the inspirational music of Bill Conti's score. The uplifting part is about what happens when a grizzled boxing trainer, himself knocked out of the ring and into a ringside role, reluctantly takes on a 31-year-old female boxer loaded with grit and heart.
Hilary Swank, the boxer, is all spark and spunk who clutches at this one last chance to shake her trailer-trash roots and diner-waitressing routine. From beginning to end, she's just as effective in the opening act through to the harrowing last act when the film skids into tragedy. What energy!
This movie presents a totally different genre where these character opposites, separated by completely different tastes, experiences and forty years, must face their messy lives and deal with a mutual tragedy. Although the word love isn't exchanged between them, that is what's going on -- but not the typical man-woman mix, rather a more complicated and complete kind of bonding that, up until now, has somehow been "impossible" to put on the screen.
A third important character is another ex-boxer who, out of guilt, Eastwood has hired to run his gym. Played with a lot of class by Morgan Freeman, Eddie "Scrap Iron" Dupris serves as an emotional referee who brings this improbable pair together, and tries his damndest to keep them there.
That versitile Eastwood has ALREADY won the New York Film Critics Award for his direction of MILLION DOLLAR BABY. This could become the best movie of 2005.