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Million Dollar Baby – Deserved the Oscar

Posted by May 24th, 2005 No Comments »

Did you ever see that movie one time where Hillary Swank played a girl who was really a boy? That was awesome.Million Dollar Baby
Starring: Hillary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Review by Kasey Anderson

If Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby” were actually about sports, it woul be as poignant and cerebral a sports film as has ever been crafted. Instead, Eastwood will have to settle for having directed one of the most poignant and cerebral character studies in recent memory.

After getting exceptional performances from Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon, which saved “Mystic River” from drowning in a sea of melodrama, Eastwood could have been expected to wring every last drop of human suffering out of “Baby’s” roughhewn protagonist, Maggie, played by Hilary Swank. Instead, using boxing as a backdrop, Eastwood ducks in and out of the darkened corners of Maggie’s psyche, and emerges with his most confident, and successful, directorial effort.

Did you ever see that movie one time where Hillary Swank played a girl who was really a boy? That was awesome.Million Dollar Baby
Starring: Hillary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Review by Kasey Anderson

If Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby” were actually about sports, it would be as poignant and cerebral a sports film as has ever been crafted. Instead, Eastwood will have to settle for having directed one of the most poignant and cerebral character studies in recent memory.

After getting exceptional performances from Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon, which saved “Mystic River” from drowning in a sea of melodrama, Eastwood could have been expected to wring every last drop of human suffering out of “Baby’s” roughhewn protagonist, Maggie, played by Hilary Swank. Instead, using boxing as a backdrop, Eastwood ducks in and out of the darkened corners of Maggie’s psyche, and emerges with his most confident, and successful, directorial effort.

Like “Rocky” or “Raging Bull,” Eastwood’s film isn’t as much a boxing film as it is about someone who happens to be a boxer. There’s the requisite amount of expertly filmed fight footage, but the film’s power is drawn from the relationship between Maggie and Eastwood’s Frankie, a stoic trainer whose loyalty to his fighters is matched only by his stubbornness.

Maggie’s rise through the women’s boxing circuit is paralleled by her relationship with Frankie, who fills the mentor/father role left vacant by Maggie’s absent family. If the scenario of a grizzled trainer taking on a lonely underdog and beating the odds together sounds tired, that’s because it is. Eastwood deftly avoids the trappings of cliché and melodrama, opting instead for raw, real emotion and subtle, understated camera work.

As “Million Dollar Baby” unfolds, Eastwoods mastery as both an actor and director becomes evident. His scenes with Morgan Freeman’s Scrap are so brilliantly played that they run the risk of eclipsing Swank’s performance. But, as with everything else in “Million Dollar Baby,” Eastwood and Freeman reign themselves back in before the film veers into overt sentimentalism. Along with his other Oscar winner “Unforgiven,” “Million Dollar Baby” will cement Eastwood’s legacy as one of film’s premier directors. – (9/10)


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