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Million Dollar Baby (2004)

  Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Written by: Paul Haggis, F.X. Toole
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank
Links: Million Dollar Baby on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Book
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 7.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Million Dollar Baby (2004) is also mentioned in em_fiction's review of 11:14 (2003) and timchuma's review of Crying Fist (2005).

"Stops short of brilliance" - a review by pearly

I saw Million Dollar Baby after the Oscar nominations came out, but even if I had seen it before, I would have known that it would receive many many nods. It's just that type of film: carefully crafted in order to be a critical favourite, and with just a hint of controversy to get people talking. It really does have Oscar written all over it (which becomes quite distracting at times!).

Based on a short story by F.X. Toole, and with every other credit in the film going to Clint Eastwood (close enough, anyway), Million Dollar Baby is about an aging boxing trainer, Frankie (Eastwood) who, against his better judgement, starts to train a female boxer named Maggie (also Eastwood - nah, just joking, really it's Hilary Swank). Maggie has had a hard life, working for minimum wage, and not really getting anywhere, but she is determined to make it as a fighter. Frankie, on the other hand, is not at all sure about the concept of a female fighting, plus, he thinks she's too old to start now. Rounding out the main cast is Eddie (Morgan Freeman), who plays the part of the wise old man in the gym which Frankie owns. The two men have a lot of water under the bridge.

Million Dollar Baby is a film that prides itself on excellence, and it delivers in this. It's a film that is about boxing, but it's about a whole lot more than that, and its real focus is on the human spirit, and the relationships that can form between people, even in the strangest of circumstances. And it's about the strength of those bonds, where true friendship and respect can mean that water is thicker than blood.

Brilliantly acted by all involved, this film should be a real gem, and a tearjerker to boot. But it unfortunately falls just a little short. I think that the problem is, in trying to achieve all this excellence, there's one area that had been overlooked, and that's the heart of the thing. For a film of such subject matter, your connection to the characters and their predicaments should be overwhelming; there is no scope for detachment, because then, the story falls flat. And, for me, this is what happens. I'm 90% of the way there to totally going with all of this, but there's something lacking that leaves a gaping hole in the whole thing.

It really is a fabulous effort from all concerned, and to a certain extent, I'm just being picky, because I can see the merit in this film, but I must stop short of giving it a truly weighty rating, because I found that I wasn't connecting to the film on the level that I know I should have been.

P.S. Swank really enjoys doing that particular accent, doesn't she?

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 14 Feb 2005

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