I hope you weren’t expecting Rocky.
Million Dollar Baby is a great film, that happens to be set in the boxing world. Adapted by Paul Haggis from a book of boxing related stories by F.X. Toole, Clint Eastwood directs and costars with the great Morgan Freeman, and the truly gifted actress Hilary Swank.
I was attracted to Million Dollar Baby by the excellent cast, the trailer, which hints that this is much more than a boxing flick, and by the rave reviews it has been receiving. I have to admit I was also attracted because of a renewed interest I have in Eastwood’s last film as a director, MYSTIC RIVER, due to it featuring EMMY ROSSUM. But I won’t get into that now…
I never saw Boys Don’t Cry, the movie for which Hilary Swank won a Best Actress Oscar, but obviously I heard and read great things about her performance. I’ve seen her in a couple of smaller roles, and she’s always been good. But in this film, as a struggling boxer in her early thirties, Ms Swank is absolutely amazing. From her physical transformation (she’s pretty buff in the role) to her endearing Southern twang, she totally wins you over in the role, and you wanna root for her in and out of the ring. This is a very talented young actress and I can easily see her going on to become one of the leading actresses of all time.
Morgan Freeman always demands respect and admiration, no matter what role he’s playing. Here he’s a former boxer who now runs a low rent gym for his crusty boss (Eastwood). His character is also the narrator and his insight seems fitting, because it always seems that Freeman’s characters always know exactly what’s going on in their respective movies, doesn’t it? His acting here is very understated (as always), and just about perfect. He just oozes a strong but fair authoritative nature.
And speaking of authority, Clint Eastwood is no slouch in that department either. Even though he is much older now than he was during his old Western days, or even the Dirty Harry stuff, Eastwood is still a presence on screen. And though I admit I haven’t really seen that many of his films, I think it’s fair to say that this role shows more range than usual. Tough guy, loving father figure, even an almost comical student of religion…Eastwood handles all the angles very nicely. And as the director, he’s pretty much perfect. Nothing too flashy, but nice storytelling and a nice use of shadow and light.
Pretty much everything about Million Dollar Baby is done right. I do have a couple of issues with the story, but there’s no denying that it’s a well made movie that is acted out brilliantly.
I expect that this movie will continue to rake in the kudos, and deservedly so.