Directed by: CLINT EASTWOOD
Written by: PAUL HAGGIS, based
on stories by F.X. TOOLD
Starring: CLINT EASTWOOD, HILARY SWANK, MORGAN FREEMAN
Released by: Warner Bros.
Short: Eastwood, Swank, Freeman and an excellent
screenplay make this a contender for the year's
are simply willing to do what losers won’t,”
reads a poster in the desolate, Downtown L.A. boxing gym
operated by Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) and managed
by a gentleman named Scrap (Morgan Freeman). Frankie is
a salty old manager with a checkered past, and you wonder
where the winner in him has gone. But in walks Maggie
Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) as a wannabe boxer and she proves
this poster right.
asks Frankie to be her coach and won’t take no for
an answer, scraping together every last cent to pay for
training and equipment. She commutes from the beach –
from the beach! – arrives early and stays late,
and when she finally hits the ring, watch out.
leads had aren’t resting on their laurels of already
having given performances of a lifetime: Swank is taut,
focused, empathetic and note-perfect; Eastwood has the
appropriate pathos and just the right twinkle in his eye;
and Freeman does yeoman’s work as the film’s
moral center and narrator. Standout performers you may
not have heard of include Jay Baruchel as Danger (one
of Maggie’s gym-mates) and Margo Martindale as Maggie’s
script by Paul Haggis, based on stories by F.X. Toole,
is seriously moving, seriously funny and seriously true-to-life,
and if it isn’t nominated for Best Screenplay, there
is seriously no justice in this world. Eastwood also directed,
which can mean deadly-dull pacing (ever seen “Bird?”),
but “Million Dollar Baby” is exhilarating,
smart and always beautiful to look at.
an inspiring story, but if you’re going in expecting
a feel-good film like “Rocky,” or even “Girlfight,”
be forewarned that there’s a tragic twist. The genius
of “Million Dollar Baby” is that Eastwood
isn’t afraid to show us that sometimes it takes
a tragedy to make us whole.