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Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is a boxing man through and through having trained and managed some top names during a lifetime in the sport. Whilst a fantastic trainer he is a distant man having lost connection with his daughter in a continued estrangement. Whilst everyone sees him as a grumpy old man who constantly bleats on about the boxers need to protect themselves at all times, to his friend Scrap (Morgan Freeman) he is a man who is looking to find an outlet for the love he can no longer give his daughter. Then one day a tough but un-streetwise tomboy Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) walks into his gym wanting to box to make a better life for herself. Against his better judgement, Frankie agrees to help.
I think this is one of the best films of the last thirty years, it features no special effects, the fights are few and far between and it concentrates on a grumpy old man, a gym manager who could have been a contender and a tomboy hick who wants to better herself, but I just lost myself in it and utterly believed in the story and the characters.
Narrated by Scrap (Freeman) it is a story with a moral, but also a story that doesn't judge.
It is a film filled with emotive power, as we learn more about the respective backgrounds of the characters, we empathise with each of them more, Frankie because he has lost the one thing he loves and wants redemption, Scrap because he has regrets over what could have been and Swank because of the awful life she must have led before she has an opportunity to final escape it.
The film is emotive without being slushy, the characters all have reasons for their behaviour and none change totally, because they are supposed to be real. This is such a simple premise, but is beautifully told, directed,
acted and shot and you lose yourself in it, Eastwood has grown into a fantastic director, I think this and Gran Torino are his career directorial highlights, and he shows a real side to his characters their situations and lives which doesn't feel forced or take easy options at any point.
Whilst this is a dark film, in that it has moments of exhilarating highs and awful lows, the overall premise is uplifting, in many senses, one sentence is the difference between a happy and sad ending and this is both brilliant and well thought out, the script is by Paul Haggis who wrote Crash and it is a well paced example of classic cinematic writing.
The cinematography is classic too, light in darkened rooms, concentration on faces during conversations on objects of interest, or in the fight scenes, brilliantly on the punches, the fighters and the corners.
Whilst Freeman is excellent in support as Scrap, an eloquent broken man who still has hope, Eastwood is fantastic as the lithe craggy Frankie, he almost spits his lines, a man who has been knocked down many times by life and learnt to get up and keep fighting, the small nuances as he softens slightly to Maggie are beautiful and as he realises the poor life she came from he really starts to lose himself in wanting to make her life better, unfortunately as in many of the best films, other issues come to a head meaning this is out of his control.
Swank is exceptional and deserved her Oscar as Maggie, her accent is excellent, she has the drive and desire to escape her surroundings and comes across as a good person who wants to be better, her acting also is a lesson to many of the young drama queens and kings around, she is still and acts with her eyes quite often, this gives scenes more power as it allows Eastwood and Morgan to build the story and dialogue without anyone hamming it up.
One scene that really hit me was when Maggie visits her mother to tell her she has bought her a home, the selfishness and lack of care from the mother (a poor southern woman with many kids by different fathers) is heartbreaking as the viewers appreciate the sweat and tears Maggie has shed to get this for her family, their ingratitude is awful and her calm acceptance of their awfulness just sums up what a broken environment she is from.
The fight scenes are good, whilst they are brutal and bloody, Eastwood doesn't try to make Swank into Rocky, she has her strengths and weaknesses and these are exposed in her fights, this is realistic and just adds to the pictures quality for me.
I would recommend this film to anyone who likes real cinema, classic cinema, the kind of film that can have you cheering and crying within minutes of each other, it looks desolate and beautiful, the three main actors are astonishing and it is a film you can utterly get lost in and wonder how hard you have actually pushed yourself when you see others work so hard to be better.
This is a story, but it feels real, it is understated which just makes shows of emotion or care so much more important, it is sparse, understated and brilliant and one of the best films of modern times.
The DVD is available on Amazon for £5.93, buy it, if not from here from Marketplace for less, add this to the Fighter, Raging Bull, When we were kings and Tyson in your collection of great boxing films and let the story wash over you and immerse you in it totally.
We recently watched this film on DVD after purchasing it from play.com for around £2.00 I believe and we were not disappointed. The fact that it is about women's boxing is quite unsettling and would probably put quite a lot of people off, but I promise that if you give the film time, you'll be taken in completely and won't even consider it in the way which you first thought.
Those people who have ever been to a boxing gym will know that they aren't always the most welcoming of places and usually contain some rather large characters and ego's. 'Milion Dollar Baby' centres on a boxing gym, but not the type that most people will recognise. Oh no, this gym is very different and welcomes people of all ages and abilities. For example there is a fighter they call 'danger' because he is literally a danger to himself and others, he's constantly pretending that he has been announced on the stage of a title fight and waltzes his way into the ring, even though he can't even throw a punch let alone take one! The gym, 'Hit Pit Gym' is essentially run by two aging ex boxers who just can't let go of the sport they love, Frankie Dunn played by Clint Eastwood and Eddie Dupris played by Morgan Freeman. They take care of business, ensure that everybody is allowed to get on and do what they want and occasionally hand out a few coaching tips if asked.
Things are bumbling along nicely at the gym, when a new fighter arrives who creates quite a stir because she is female. Maggie Fitzgerald is her name, she's late to the game aged thirty one and is not very good at all, in fact she's rubbish, but has a real burning desire to improve and enter the sport as a career. She's a waitress by trade and very poor, even eating left over food from people's plates to survive. Frankie is a bit of an old traditionalist and is not impressed to see her in the gym, but after talking to her he admires her enthusiasm, although he does not let it show. Eddie takes pity on her and lends her some equipment to get her going. She plucks up the courage to ask Frankie's advice about her style and technique, he's brutally honest with her, but she cherishes it and asks him to coach her, he's horrified, but gives in; this is basically where the film gets going.
Maggie's career takes off in a big way and she makes a real name for herself, gaining the respect of the people in the gym and the boxing world. Fight after fight she wins convincingly, until she is offered a $1,000,000 title fight in Las Vegas against a girl with a reputation as a real dirty fighter. Frankie offers Eddie the chance to be corner man for the occasion to team up for one last time, he refuses, something the pair regret for a long time. I shan't say anymore as I'll spoil the plot, but it is a superb end to the film.
As the list of honours for this film shows, pretty much all of the big names delivered. Hilary Swank was quite superb as Maggie Fitzgerald, not only portraying the passion and determination required to be a top fighter, but also playing a convincing role as a professional boxer. The end few scenes with Clint Eastwood are very emotional and both act fantastically well and really get into their characters totally and convincingly.
Eastwood plays the old school traditionalist, as he has done many times before in other films, such as Gran Torino. This enables him to comment on the issues thrown up by women's boxing and the morality of it etc. His relationship with Swank is simple and focussed solely around boxing; however, he reveals his true feelings for her when he explains his nickname for her and the name she dons on her shorts during fights - quite simply "my darling."
Morgan Freeman is top class as always, I'm rather biased because he's my favourite actor. He delivers some big scenes and as I often find with him, you end up hanging on his every word. Freeman's character damaged his eye because he continued boxing for too long. There is a particular scene in which 'danger' is invited into the ring to fight the biggest guy in the gym, without Freeman's knowledge or consent. He finds 'danger' getting beaten badly and enters the ring and takes the bully on himself, even with only vision in one eye; he knocks him out and claims another fight in his boxing career - a quite superb scene.
This has to be one of the best films I have seen in ages. The storyline is fantastic, with some big characters and a real meaning and emotional journey attached. The characters are extremely convincing and it is easy to get sucked into it, the time just disappears and before you realise the end credits are rolling up. The only thing about the film which I think some people will find quite uncomfortable is the fact that the film is essentially about women's boxing. I must admit that I found this quite hard to deal with at first, but it is dealt with in such an honest way that you just get used to it because it is real life and you simply follow the characters on their journey to the top. At a certificate twelve it does contain some choice language and a few scenes which are quite emotionally challenging. Quite simply, an awesome film.
Notable cast members:
Hilary Swank - Maggie Fitzgerald (main female boxer)
Clint Eastwood - Frankie Dunn (trainer)
Morgan Freeman - Eddie Dupris (gym manager / cleaner)
The film actually won four academy awards in 2004, they were:
- Best Picture
- Best Director (Clint Eastwood)
- Best performance by an actress in a leading role (Hilary Swank)
- Best performance by an actor in a lead role (Clint Eastwood)
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment - Beanie8844
Million Dollar Baby is quite a long movie however i is easy to see while watching it why it earned four academy awards. The film is directed by Clint Eastwood who is having as much if not more success with his directing as he did with his cating career.
The main character is HMaggie Fitzgerald who is played by Hilary Swank, Maggie is a 30 year old woman who works as a waitress and is forced to eat the leftovers in order to survive as she earns so little from her work. Clint Eastwood plays an ageing boxing trainer called Frankie Dunn, he is rather old school and does not really agree with women boxing however Maggie dreams of being a boxer and he reluctantly agrees to train her.
The acting in this film is excellent especially from Swank, the relationship between the two is well documented and set out and you come to realise the mutual dependency that the two of them have. Swank is skilled at showing the emotional vulnerability of her charcter that hides within the tough exterior.
Morgan Freemna plays the manager of the gym that she trains at, his character Eddie provides the narration for the film. As I said the film is quite long, it runs for over two hours however it is a really pleasurable viewing experience. It is a powerful and emotional film and one that I hole heartingly recommend you watching.
Million Dollar Baby was released in 2005 and is a fantastic movie all round, directed by Clint Eastwood who also stars in the film. I have to admit I don't mind watching a bit of boxing but know that not everyone is into the sport but I don't really think that matters too much as it's brilliant.
The movie is the story of a female boxer by the name of Maggie Fitzgerald played by Hilary Swank, her trainer Frankie Dunn played by Clint Eastwood, and his business partner Eddie Durpis played by Morgan Freeman. The movie itself is really a character study of the first two characters, namely Maggie and Frankie.
For me, one of the reasons I think that this movie works whether or not you like boxing or not is because I didn't feel like the movie glorified boxing at all, although it does show the postitive side of boxing. We get to see all sides to this brutal sport including the glory, pain and heartbreak and the feeling of belonging to an exclusive club and a sense of acheivement. If you ever want to be taken on an emotional rollercoaster then this is the film for you. You are taken from the bottom to the top and then back down again in the journey.
As someone who does watch a bit of this sport I felt that the boxing scenes were pretty realistic looking and seemed believable to me anyway. The fights are quite short as it's not really about the boxing so much as the events that surround it involving the characters.
I think the acting in this film was superb from all concerned. Having two legends such as Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman involved was a masterstroke and they interact very well. Hilary Swank equally plays an important role and puts in an exceptional performance.
I really think that this is a great movie and it makes no real difference if you like boxing or not to enjoy it. Well worth buying at under £5 in some places now so a bargain.
*This is for my Pa*
Million Dollar Baby is something more than a sports movie about boxing. It's a story about a deeply wounded man who is a boxing trainer but has a heart filled with frustrations and a head filled with questions that he can't find the answers to. Frankie's (Clint Eastwood) job is to 'fix things'; step into the ring, wash the blood away, mend cracked bones and decide just how many more blows they can take.
He's pretty damn good at healing other peoples' wounds but somehow he can't stop his own blood from flowing. At the end of the day, he kneels on the floor, weighed down by his past and asks the Lord to heal his bleeding cuts. Every day he goes off to Mass but instead of talking about his deepest conflict he annoys a furious priest with stubborn questions about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the Immaculate Conception. And while he spends most of his hours guiding boxers on how to move their feet, his language becomes a kind of spoken verse describing his difficulties to 'defend himself' in battles he can't win on his own. At the end of the day, when Frankie and Scrap Iron (Morgan Freeman) sit down and talk about fighting, they're talking about survival.
Clint Eastwood has been concerned with mortality for a long time now. Perhaps he always has. Since he was a young man he has seemed to be preoccupied - you could say he has grown old before his time. He's always been concerned with what makes violent men tick, what forces them to fight and the repercussions of violence. He's definitely chosen the right actor to play the anxious trainer - himself. His popular Westerns where he rides the pale horse, deals with judgement and kills have made Eastwood's mask very familiar. As the years pass by and he grows older he questions his conscience more and his withered and wrinkled face seems to become more cold and forbidding than it ever was. His image is slowly transforming into a symbol of his favourite subject.
Million Dollar Baby isn't a Western but it is just as desolate and primitive as the film he directed in 1992 (Unforgiven) where he played William Munny. This fighting film is my favourite film of his and I believe, his most accomplished. The character, Frankie, is one of the most complex roles he has taken on and he is superb.
Paul Haggis wrote the screenplay but I believe it was based on F. X Toole's short stories. The plot line is familiar - we have the grey, bad tempered pro who takes a risk on a longshot in the form of Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank). Maggie, a young girl from backwater Missouri has had enough of living in her trailer park. She dreams of becoming a fighter and believes she can fight her way out of the trash bin she lives in.
Now, Frankie isn't too keen on girls fighting in the ring but he was let down by the last fighter he trained. This was a great blow and made him feel like he had failed especially as a father figure. You are not left on tenterhooks guessing whether he is going to take the girl on; you know they are a perfect combination. What you don't know is just how closely acquainted they become and how long and difficult the road is that they travel.
The screenplay is one of the best pieces of writing I have come across in the movies and I love the way Haggis makes his characters so true to life and loveable. They become your mates and you feel like you want to take them to the pub or bring them home for dinner. The lighting in the film is splendid and I have to award Tom Stern full marks for his job here. He frames the characters in a simple, fierce imagery of a dazzling white boxing ring in an absolute dark arena, and the frigid illumination of naked light bulbs in a training gym late at night. While the art and technique of film making tell the essential tale efficiently and intelligently, and Eastwood's restrained and unpretentious guitar notes softly augment the drama, it's Morgan Freeman's sad and mournful oration that gives this film its powerful and ghostly beauty. The language is exceptional.
The narration might be the bony frame of the film but the whole performance by the cast is the weighty meat. They sure do seem to adore the lines they have been given to speak. I am a bit biased when it comes to Clint Eastwood. I love him dearly as an actor and as a director. He always reminds me of my dad and in a way I feel like he's my second dad - I've grown up with him. He is outstanding in this role. I love the way he is so weary with life and you really see his vulnerability as if he's going to break with the pressure of past beatings. Even as he guides boxers into the ring, teaches them how to fight, how to beat opponents, how to lose and how to rise up again we catch glimpses of the failures he hides behind clenched fists. It's a top performance - his best ever.
Morgan Freeman is once again Eastwood's partner - a loveable character, someone he can depend on. His dried out sense of humour is like the punching bag Maggie beats the hell out of. His character, a bit of a cliche perhaps, just like Frankie, the old pro and Maggie the arrogant newcomer; Scrap Iron, the retired boxer whose loss of his right eye ended his career. Cliche or not it's good to see how him and Eastwood engage with each other; a pretty loose banter where they peel away layer and layer of their history until they become fully mature personalities.
Swank is excellent too - I like the way she doesn't flaunt her prettiness but instead takes on this granite-edged, broken character. Her transformation from a feisty, ambitious, damaged girl into a wild, extreme, joyful, triumphant fighter is amazing. I love the fact that she doesn't over act in the big, important scenes - she instead makes subtle and intelligent pauses in the action. There is a scene at a gas station where she shares a brief smile with a girl - no words, just one smile but the subtle way it is executed says everything.
Moments like this allow this film to surpass its genre cliches. Each scene has an impact as it reveals things about each character's history, implying their possible futures, and reminding us of the difficult tasks we all face. Frankie's letters to his lost daughter come back unopened and marked 'Return to Sender.' Here we see the parallel with his lop-sided relationship to God and we understand why he is willing to risk his reputation on a girl fighter. Perhaps she's the missing piece of the family jigsaw - she certainly fits the description.
If there is a weakness in the film then it is in the way Haggis's script piles the deck so unfairly against Maggie and Frankie. Frankie's past is one deep black hole and her's is a bad dream. Frankie only has one business partner he can trust and that's Scrap Iron. All the rest have exploited him and been disloyal.
And what about Frankie and the Catholic Church? That's the Million Dollar question.
At the end of the film the three characters in Million Dollar Baby make choices that may cause some viewers pain and grief. Others may be outraged from what they see. I didn't think the film glorified the characters but some might think differently. Remember, Frankie and Maggie are driven by terror and despair - the decisions they make may be rash. I felt a great compassion for these two characters who have been
stripped of their bare integrity. Frankie may have made some bad errors of judgement but he is acting out of kindness. His vision and passion is sometimes restricted. An honest portrayal of someone who has perhaps lost his faith - given up on a God that has failed him.
A really amazing film. My favourite Clint Eastwood film of all time. 5 big whopping stars*****
Winner of four academy awards and directed by Clint Eastwood Million Dollar Baby is an excellent drama and well worth seeing.
Hilary Swank delivers an award winning performance as Maggie Fitzgerald a 30 year old waitress who dreams of being a boxer, very poor she eats the leftovers from the restaurant where she works. Clint Eastwood plays a boxing trainer called Frankie Dunn who despite his initial reluctance agrees to take her on and train her. While the film does follow her promising career it is as much about the relationship between boxer and trainer as each benefits the other with regards to facing their own demons.
It is easy to see why Hilary Swank picked up an awardfor this performance as she is excellent in the role, hers is a strong character on the outside but one that is emotionally vulnerable on the inside and as such it is an excellent role for her. Eastwood as Frankie is an excellent foil for her and the two combine well together during some heated exchanges.
The film is narrated by Eddie, played by Morgan Freeman and the manager of the gym that Maggie trains in and he delivers a strong performance that also picked up an academy award.
It is not a short film as it runs for just over two hours however the time certainly does not drag as it is an emotional and engaging film, the only downside to the film for me was that they tended to show a bit toomuch boxing action which whle an integral part of the film were slightly too long and could have been edited down.
However this is a minor point as this is a super film. Available on Amazon for £3.98 it is well worth owning.
Clint Eastwood at his finest. And who doesn't love Moorgan Free man as the adorable wise cleaner. Very well directed. 3 talented actors make this a very gripping film to watch. The first and second time I watched it I cried. Hilary Swank plays an outstanding "trash" character who is wonderfully determined and eventually helped by a boxing manager to pursue her dreams. The film is acted very well. Clint Eastwood being my favorite of the 3 Hollywood stars as you watch him break down from being very stuck in his ways, angry and hardened in emotion to a loving dad. Its so easy to get lost in this film. The other character who I think was very well chosen was the lady playing the role of the "dirty fighter" perfect casting and immediately hated as soon as she appears on screen fitting her role perfectly. This film was a good length and has to be one of Eastwood's best directed films yet! Talented man.
Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood star together in 'Million Dollar Baby', a drama that focuses on an unlikely partnership that later develops into a deep friendship between a female boxer and her trainer (Eastwood).
The cover art may fool a lot of people into thinking it's a boxing movie but there is only a handful of boxing scenes in the whole film and, really, the boxing is used as an excuse to show how Clint's character, Frankie, is, at first, unwilling to let himself become emotionally attached to people and his protege, Maggie (Swank) unknowingly, eventually gets to change all that.
Morgan Freeman makes appearances in the film but takes a back seat to Swank and Eastwood's roles as a friend of Frankie's who is a caretaker for the boxing gym.
This is a film that is all about developing characters and what paths they choose to take in their lives so, naturally, this movie has a lot of character development and back story to those characters.
Clint Eastwood has proven to be a worthwhile director, despite the concerns of the public.
The movie is dialogue driven but the fight scenes themselves do give us a break from the dialogue from time to time.
The choreography is decent and the matches are made to look realistic here. None of that flying blood that falls into the laps of ringside audiences stuff here (Raging Bull) or any scenes involving Maggie continually being knocked down and getting up again (Rocky) but some good down to earth portrayals of boxing.
Performances are great and even though Swank generally irks me when I see her in a film, she is wonderful here and her character is a very positive person, always looking on the bright side of life, which is quite a contrast to Frankie, who does nothing but moan about the way things are.
If you like dialogue driven drama movies that focus heavily on characters then this is the film for you and I certainly enjoyed it for what it was!
FANTASTIC! This film really pulls on the heart strings and I challenge any one to sit through the whole movie and not shed a tear. Clint Eastwood confirms his status as an excellent Director whilst also giving a fantastic performance as trainer Frankie Dunn. Hilary Swank deservedly won an academy award for her stunning performance as Maggie Fitzgerald a lady who won't take no for an answer. Morgan Freeman yet again delivers with his performance that won best supporting actor. He does a great job of telling the story through his eyes, using that powerful voice of his. This is in my top 5 of all time best films and I've seen it 5 times. It is a roller coaster of emotions and will make you happy, angry and very sad. All the actors compliment each others performances and it just works. It keeps you guessing in certain places but don't want to give too much away. If you don't like boxing movies don't let this put you off, this is more than a boxing movie.
It seems over the past few years or so, Clint Eastwood has become one of those thoughtful and meaningful directors, choosing to provide dramas filled with emotion. I recently watched Gran Torino, where I found his direction and acting were brilliant. Here, in the 2005 film Million Dollar Baby, I can say the same thing.
Frankie Dunn is a boxing trainer, but a chauvinist to boot. He vows to never train girls, but when Maggie Fitzgerald walks in, high in confidence and even higher in determination, Dunn is tested for the first time. Instantly, we find Eastwood's drama: the intense sort of father-daughter relationship that develops between Frankie and Maggie. Eastwood the actor lets Eastwood the director take charge, and with Hilary Swank giving an outstanding performance as Maggie, the two are very suited, the on screen acting chemistry very strong.
Sitting there in the wings is Morgan Freeman, as Eddie 'Scrap Iron' Dupris. Taking on the role as caretaker of the gym, he's a former boxer with a killer jab. Blind in one eye, he provides the morals and the heart to heart conversations for both the leads. In a way, he's the normal one of the three, who doesn't let emotion cloud his judgment. Freeman's role is very good for the main reason that he fulfils it to the max without once taking the limelight away from Clint or Swank.
The power of the film is immense in places. Not only do we get the turbulence created by the two main characters' force of wills against each other, but we also get to see the hurt and heartbreak of what can happen in the boxing ring. Danger is always round the next corner if you aren't careful, and these issues are dealt with very powerfully in the film. I am not a boxer, and so I can't comment on the reality of the filming, but what I could see, and what I could compare it to in terms of having watched boxing matches, it all seemed incredibly realistic.
Emotionally, an extremely powerful film. Action in the ring is good, and the acting awesome. I found this was plodding away nicely and then BANG! it hits you with a sucker punch, and sort of makes the film itself like an actual boxing fight, set in a series of rounds, with the last round by far being the hardest, visually, emotionally, every which way. An extremely powerful from start to finish, Million Dollar Baby is currently available from amazon.co.uk for £4.98, and is a film I cannot recommend highly enough. Excellently made, it is a strong emotional drama. It may be a bit too much at times for some of you, but overall, it's intensely made and the acting all round is excellent. Another thumbs up from me to Clint. Recommended.
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
Boxing films have been so overdone, and well, underdog sports stories in general have become so trite now that it's a breath of fresh air when someone tries something a little different, especially when it's Clint Eastwood. He follows up his captivating Mystic River with Million Dollar Baby, a textured boxing drama that also explores more contentious issues about life, death, morality, and religion, but to say much more than that will spoil the shocking change of tone in the film's second half.
The film revolves around Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), an amateur boxer who works as a waitress and wants to make it big. Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) initially tells her she won't be able to, but reluctantly takes her on, and slowly, she begins to show significant promise as a possible title contender. What's most startling and most compelling about the film is the dynamic between the two: Dunn is estranged from his daughter and writes to her constantly without a reply, and as such, Maggie fills that gap, becoming a surrogate daughter of sorts. Thus, when the film takes its strange but satisfying tonal shift, the film is all that more emotionally resonant and heartbreaking.
A fantastic character piece that takes an unexpected, tragic but absolutely engrossing turn, Million Dollar Baby isn't easy viewing, but the virtuosity on display by Eastwood as actor and director, is staggering. All involved perform perfection on screen, and the ending is truly heartbreaking. One of the most deserved Best Picture Academy Award wins in some time. Just don't reveal the ending (or, in fact, the entire latter half of the film) to your friends after you see it.
Raise the subject of women's boxing and some men get over-excited and have to go off for a cold shower, followed by a nice lie down. If this is you, forget Million Dollar Baby, because you'll be very disappointed. Whilst set in the world of boxing, it actually deals with Clint Eastwood's favourite themes: loyalty and friendships between unlikely people.
Million Dollar Baby follows the career of no-hope female boxer Maggie Fitzgerald, who is taken to the top thanks to her grizzly old trainer Frankie Dunn and his long-time friend Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris.
In some ways, Million Dollar Baby is hard to define. It's a boxing movie, which is not about boxing (again, if you're expecting a female "Rocky" you will feel badly let down). It's an "issues" movie without any real issues and it's a "battle against the odds" film where you're never quite sure what those odds actually are. Yet don't take a lack of clarity for a lack of quality, because the film is a compelling drama.
What is clear is that Million Dollar Baby is aimed fairly and squarely at Mr Oscar (and in that sense it was very successful, winning four). Without wishing to give too much away it ticks all The Academy's favourite boxes: a struggle against the odds, family issues, friendship, redemption, and others which I won't talk about, lest I say too much. On some levels, this is a little annoying. You can almost sense that everything in it was deliberately written into the script with Oscars in mind. On a cynical level, Million Dollar Baby is deeply manipulative; almost slavishly following a checklist entitled "Stuff The Academy Likes". The fact that it also makes a good film along the way is almost incidental.
Yet, make a good film it does and for once, I can forgive the cynical Oscar-baiting. What saves Million Dollar Baby from being little more than "TV Melodrama of the Week" are the excellent central performances from Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood. Swank is superb as the lost Maggie Fitzgerald whose unlikely friendship with Eastwood's equally lost Frank Dunn helps both to find some sort of redemption. Fitzgerald could have been a walking cliché - the underdog who never gives up - but Swank invests her with such humanity and gives her such reserves of internal courage that she really is a strong character whom the viewer can identify with and root for.
Similarly Eastwood turns in excellent, as her grouchy coach Dunn - a man estranged from his own daughter and emotionally adrift, who (surprise, surprise!) gradually becomes a father figure to Maggie and gets a second chance to put right his past mistakes. OK, so playing a grizzly, grouchy man alienated from the rest of humanity is hardly a stretch for Eastwood, given that pretty much his entire career has been based on this idea. It's credit to Eastwood's talent, then, that we still can't get enough of it, and his scenes with Maggie are highly emotional without ever being melodramatic.
The always reliable also Morgan Freeman turns up in a supporting role as Dunn's friend Eddie and also as our narrator to the unfolding events. Once again, Freeman is not exactly pushing the boat out - playing the world-weary, wise old friend to Eastwood's caustic, bitter old man. Yet his performance is so well-pitched that never once do you stop and think "I've seen all this before"
It's a good job that these three on top of their game, because despite some claims to the contrary, Million Dollar Baby is not particularly anything to write home about plot-wise. Certainly, it's well written and well structured, whilst paced in such a way that allows the viewer to go through the emotional journey with the characters. Yet it is quite clearly plotting by numbers, ticking those boxes for The Academy. If you've seen a few of these films, you will know exactly how everything is going to pan out and it really does boil down to the performances that keep you enthralled.
Million Dollar Baby is quite a slow-paced film, which will not be to everyone's tastes. Sensibly, Eastwood keeps the actual boxing action to a minimum - just enough to show Fitzgerald's progress. Much of the rest of it is very dialogue heavy and concentrates on the relationship between the three key characters. This provides a real emotional investment for the viewer, as you get to know the characters intimately and care about them deeply; although some will dismiss this concentration on character as "slow" and "boring".
Credit should also go to Eastwood's directing which is very subdued and understated. The slow pace of the film is matched by Eastwood's steady directing, which always allows the characters to do the talking and is never intrusive, but always beautifully framed. Even the Eastwood composed music (something of a bugbear of mine from his other films) is excellent. Sparsely used, it perfectly complements the somewhat austere nature of the film and when it is used, it is used appropriately and unobtrusively.
There is some small part of me that wants to hate Million Dollar Baby and only give it two or three stars. It was blatantly written, cast and directed to hoover up Oscar nominations and I despise that cynical approach to film-making. Yet, whatever its origins and intentions, Million Dollar Baby ends up being a well-constructed, superbly directed study of strong characters and excellent acting. At the end of the day, that's all I ask of films. It might lose a star for its Oscar baiting, but it remains a fine film.
Million Dollar Baby
Director: Clint Eastwood
Running time: approx. 127 minutes
© Copyright SWSt 2009
This film has won 2 Golden Globes for Clint Eastwood as best director and Hilary Swank as best actress. It has also won 4 academy awards for best picture best director best actress and best supporting actor, it is not suprising why this is a very moving and heartfelt film.
I had always seen Clint Eastwood as a western actor until I picked up this film. He was not playing a cowboy it was a modern film and at this point I found out he directed the film too. I have found him a very interesting actor that can make a film with real feeling which draws you in and makes you feel close to the charactors. He has also got big actors such as Morgan Freeman in the film who I feel is also a very moving actor too. This film is 2 hours 10 minutes long. This seems a bit long until you are watching the film because it really gripps you you do not notice that it is that long.
This is an interesting storyline. Clint Eastwood plays a man called Frankie Dunn who has trained and managed high profile boxers throughout his life working in the boxing industry. The main reason that they have been so good is that he teaches them an important rule that he lives by which is to always protect yourself. He became estranged from his daughter in a very painful way and has been unwilling to get close to anyone. He has only one friend Scrap who is played by Morgan Freeman he is an ex-boxer who is employed by Frankie to look after and run his gym. Underneath Frankies gruff exterier Scrap knows that he has been seeking forgiveness from god for the past 23 by attending mass every year without fail.
Then a woman called Maggie Fitzgerald who is played by Hilary Swank walks into his life. She wants to be the best boxer known and is a woman. She spends hours training and trying to convince Frankie to train her because he is the best. It takes her some time but finally she manages to break down the trainer. He teaches her everything that he knows but she can be very stubborn and does not listen to everything that she is told. An accident happens and he feels responsable again and all he can see is his daughter. He helps her and will not let her give up the fight.
The acting in this is exceptional Clint Eastwood has his hard faced aura about him that he has in most of his films. He is shows a very caring side to the charactor and shows that he has alot of love inside. Morgan Freeman is not a main part in this film but however he does play the supporting friend and helps him in his own way to open up and try and move past bad times. He shows the loyalty between men without having to show it. Then the acting from Hilary Swank was at the highest level that I have seen from any actress in a long time. She really makes the charactor come to life, she makes you feel the pain that she is feeling. She shows the love, support and respect that she has for Frankie very well indeed. I feel that she played a very challenging role excellently with alot of feeling.
The film itself had a very interesting original storyline. The picture quality was very good and not much use of special effects needed. It was a close to heart film which seemed like alot of thought had gone into it. The title leaves alot upto imagination and I would say that from clips that I had seen I would have not expected the ending that I did. I think all the actors were exceptional in this production and the direction is at a very high standard. This has an age range of ten and will argee that this is an appropriate grade for it due to the boxing nature. This is a Waner Bros production which I think are good film makers anyway but have out done themselves by helping create this master piece of a film.
I would recommend that film lovers watch this you will be very moved and drawn in by it. I hope you would agree that it is an exceptional film that everyone must see. For the very moved people watch out you do not cry.
This is not simply a film about sports, making it to the top despite all odds and a girl winning at a mans thing...this is about an immense bond that bridges age and sex gaps and makes for a compelling story.
The first half is pretty predictable, Hilary Swanks character Maggie wants Frankie Dunn (Eastwood) to train her to become a prize boxer. He says no but concedes and gives up in the end. She becomes very succesful and you start to feel like you know how it will end. I began thinking that the storyline was moving to fast, she is going to win everything and were only an hour in...surely the big fight should be at the end, Rocky Style??
But as I said this movie is not about the sports and a huge event occurs that removes it from the picture alltogether. After this point, the story focuses on the relationship between Frankie and Maggie. No romance, which is great, it would have ruined this movie, but simply he has become a father to her and this bond is clear for all to see.
The acting in this is beautiful, and draws you in to the emotion of the scenes. I genuinely felt rage towards her family, and am not ashamed to say that I shed a few tears throughout this rollercoaster of emotions.
Personally I am not too much of a fan of Clint, his voice irritates me and I can hear a word he is saying, but this and Gran Tourino are fantastic. He is ideal for the part, acts emotionless but really he is just a lonely old man, who regrets his estrangement from his daughter.
Morgan Freeman however, I could listen to all day, and yes, I know that he narrates most movies these days, but he is so suited to it. this is one of those films that needs to be narrated, you dont want tha characters saying or doing too much that takes away from the emotion of the scene, so Morgan draws you further in while the images on the secne tell the rest of it.
I was so pleased that this movie won the Oscars, as i feel it was absolutely deserved. Hilary Swank clearly worked very hard, not just acting, but physically in order to become a boxer, and the direction was simply flawless, the movie just flowed, there was no waiting around or boring intervals that served no pupose, everything just ties in together.
I would recommend this movie to anyone, it really is worth seeing, and if you havent already got it, i would suggest that you get it, as it is certainly one of those classics that everyone must see.
Million Dollar Baby is directed by Clint Eastwood who stars alongside Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank.
Clint Eastwood plays Frankie Dunn, a cantankerous old man who trains boxers in an old gym. Morgan Freeman plays the gym cleaner, an old friend of his, Eddie Dupris, and Hilary Swank plays Maggie Fitzgerald, a woman in her late-twenties who wants to be a boxer.
Maggie travels miles from her trailer park to the old gym where the best boxers get trained. Her ambition is to be trained by Frankie Dunn and become a female boxer. She arrives at the gym and basically Frankie tells her to go away, he doesn't train women, he's not interested. But she doesn't give up, she hangs around, borrows peoples' punchbags. Eventually Eddie takes notice of her and gives her some boxing tips to start her off. It transpires that he used to be a great boxer who was managed by Frankie years ago, until he got badly beaten in a fight and lost the sight in one eye, which goes a little way to explain why Frankie doesn't want to train Maggie.
Basically it's a boring, boxing film. Nothing good happens in it. As with most films, Morgan Freeman is the narrator. Nothing interesting there.
I didn't have any sympathy with Hilary Swank's character in the film. For one, I couldn't understand a word she was saying, and two, I can't stand boxing.
I don't like the way the film is structured. You get to about three quarters of an hour from the end and it just sort of trails off, fades away.
You don't discover anything earth-shattering in this film. There's nothing really to grab you. The direction and cinematography is done quite well but that's about it I'm afraid.
Some really grim things happen in the film, and to me they just seem gratuitous. There's no point to them at all. The ending is also, unsurprisingly, miserable.
It's shocking really. Compared with Gran Torino and Changeling this is a pile of rubbish, and yet this is the one that won Eastwood an Oscar!
Clint Eastwood's 25th film as a director, Million Dollar Baby stands proudly with Unforgiven and Mystic River as the masterwork of a great American filmmaker. In an age of bloated spectacle and computer-generated effects extravaganzas, Eastwood turns an elegant screenplay by Paul Haggis (adapted from the book Rope Burns: Stories From the Corner by F.X. Toole, a pseudonym for veteran boxing manager Jerry Boyd) into a simple, humanitarian example of classical filmmaking, as deeply felt in its heart-wrenching emotions as it is streamlined in its character-driven storytelling. In the course of developing powerful bonds between "white-trash" Missouri waitress and aspiring boxer Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), her grizzled, reluctant trainer Frankie Dunn (Eastwood), and Frankie's best friend and training-gym partner Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris (Morgan Freeman), 74-year-old Eastwood mines gold from each and every character, resulting in stellar work from his well-chosen cast. Containing deep reserves of love, loss, and the universal desire for something better in hard-scrabble lives, Million Dollar Baby emerged, quietly and gracefully, as one of the most acclaimed films of 2004, released just in time to earn an abundance of year-end accolades, all of them well-deserved. --Jeff Shannon