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A movie that will last
NoArrow8 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Million Dollar Baby" has great characters, but it doesn't glorify them. It has a wonderful story, but it never tries to impress you. The photography, score and direction is superb, but never distracting. What this movie is, if I have to call it something, is passion. Passion for film-making, passion for storytelling, passion for its characters, passion for its actors, and passion for its story and the means at which it will go to tell it. Amazing.

Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) owns a messy boxing gym which is populated, mostly, by downbeat losers who he spends some time training. He runs it with his friend and former student Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris (Morgan Freeman), who now lives contently at a room in the gym. One day a young woman named Maggie (Hilary Swank) walks in, looking for a manager and trainer. Frankie shafts her immediately ("girly, tough ain't enough"). Frankie has bigger things on his hands. He's managing a fighter who has a shot at a title bout.

But Frankie is old and weathered and not an appealing manager, so the fighter leaves him. Frankie is broken by this; it is another in a long line of rejections and separations. We can tell that, at this time in his life, he only gets really close with those he's training (Scrap is the only exception). We can tell that his loneliness – and a bit of persuasion from Scrap – cause him to agree to teach Maggie. Teach, that is the agreement, not manage. But, by the end of the film he will have devoted his life to her.

So the rest of the story follows these two people. There is no real 'plot' that you could describe in a trailer because it is constantly changing…it is not the inspiring underdog story you may think of it as. No, what it's 'about' is these characters, and how they react to the circumstances around them, which change with each scene.

Narrating the story is Scrap, speaking like he's looking back to a time long ago when everything has passed. His voice seems flat, deadpan, but there is a working of subtle sorrow in it. Scrap is a sad human being, he sees himself as the result of missed opportunities in the past, and so he spends his time helping the others, offering them his wise advice, with a tone of deadpan humor and even cockiness. Scrap knows what should be done, and what will happen regardless, and he is sort of okay with everything, in a sort of passive way. But the man also knows what's right and he has a deep, inner strength which is displayed in one scene in particular where you just have to cheer. It is an intriguing character, and personally I think it's Freeman's best performance.

And Eastwood's best too. He is an elderly man; some might say too elderly to still be working. After all, most people are retired by his age. But if you had to guess when you're watching this film, you would never, ever say the man is seventy-four. You would say something closer to the sixties, because the man has such amazing energy and dedication, and above all, he has talent. It's been forty long years since "A Fist Full of Dollars" and film has come a long way, and so has this man. At seventy-four, passed all those years as an action hero, nearing what's could be the end of his career, Eastwood has made his best movie. I really, really hope he has time to make many more.

As for Swank, well, she must have found something big that she shared with her character, because this is not acting, it is existing. Swank is Maggie. That's all there is too it. This could be the movie she will be remembered for.

So, "Million Dollar Baby" is a masterpiece. I saw it last night when it opened in my city, and everyone else was seeing "White Noise", and I was shaking my head. Everyone who is even remotely interested in movies should see this one, just so they can know how movies are supposed to be made. I'm trying to think, and there is not a single thing here where Eastwood went wrong. The acting, directing, writing, score, cinematography…they all accomplish precisely what they're supposed to with sublime perfection. Many of these aspects will certainly receive Oscars and all of them should.

You may cry through this film, you may cheer. Whatever the case, you will love it.

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A Punch In The Stomach
marcosaguado20 March 2005
I don't know why, but I went into the theater thinking I was about to see a female Rocky Balboa kind of deal. I left the theater in a daze. Overwhelmed by the simple truth of its conclusion. My hat to Clint Eastwood. What an extraordinary career. An artist of enormous proportions so well camouflaged behind a shy smile and a charming, clumsy attitude. I remember focusing on Clint Eastwood through a very different lens after sitting through "Pale Rider" a mythological, lyrical western. Actors love him because he, clearly, doesn't lie to them, doesn't kiss their asses. He quite simply gives them room to maneuver. Even someone like Meryl Streep, felt freer and capable to stretch herself all the way to Italy under his wing. Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Jude Law, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman yes mostly men but there was also, other than Meryl Streep, Genevieve Boujold. Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney and now Hillary Swank with a performance that not even "Boys don't Cry" could predict. The film is a triumph in every department. My stomach ached from feeling. That's a compliment Mr. Eastwood. Thank you very much.
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Loved The Ride
delcash00620 December 2004
Million Dollar Baby is a movie about boxing like Braveheart is a movie about men in kilts riding horses. What it is is a movie to experience if you find yourself ever entertaining thoughts about loyalty, determination, talent, no talent, age, youth, courage, fear, fate, and the pain and joy of both living and dying.

I read reviews of Million Dollar Baby and expected to like it. Roger Ebert can be soft on movies because he is plainly a big fan, but even he does not lightly toss around the M-word, masterpiece. Yet he drops it on MDB, and justly so. The story is simple and searing. A gal (Hilary Swank) with much heart and no experience aspires to be the champion of the world. She is Rocky in a sports bra. A grizzled fight trainer-manager/gym owner (Clint Eastwood) reluctantly takes her on. His best pal and wise-man assistant (Morgan Freemna) stands alongside them, as the plot unwinds steadily, seamlessly, picking up speed, scene by scene, act after act. Eastwood and Freeman are artists at the top of their profession and they, along with the brilliant Swank, present you the very worthy lives of three people you will care about and remember. The arena is boxing, but it might as well have been boating or baking. It is a story about values and truths that far exceed sports and movies. I walked into the Lowes Lincoln Square theater last night knowing Million Dollar Baby was taking me on a ride and willing to hop aboard. What a beautiful, memorable ride it was.
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Swank gives the performance of a lifetime!
ezlidblue-115 April 2011
I didn't view this film until today because I simply wasn't interested in women in boxing; however, I wish I'd seen it years ago! Hillary Swank can never make another film and this one would be her crowning glory. It takes you on a wild ride of emotions from the beginning and Clint Eastwood's curmudgeon self is part of it all. Naturally, the "voice of God" in Morgan Freeman is there to explain it all and give some meaning to what each of the characters fell. By now, everyone knows the ending but I still won't spoil it for late-comers to the film like myself. I do believe much has been made about it and it's unnecessary. Yes, you will be torn about what is morally right but you can certainly understand how Eastwood's and Swank's characters feel! Please see this film. You will understand pugilism more than ever before and you just might see some of your own self in the film! It is well worth the time!
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It's a knockout ...
tkwh16 December 2004
Flawlessly written, acted and directed, MILLION DOLLAR BABY is being hymned and wreathed by the critics as the best film of 2004. They're absolutely right. "An old master's new masterpiece," the NEW YORK TIMES said in a review that was more of an open love letter to Eastwood than anything remotely resembling a critical analysis of the film itself. For once such honey-tongued critical adulation is fully merited. Dark, edgy, subtle and at times emotionally devastating, MILLION DOLLAR BABY represents the apotheosis of Eastwood's art - the most lucid and intelligently limned expression of his philosophy of the outsider, the noble loners whose personal codes of honour set them both above and apart from the compromised, corrupt societies they inhabit. The Boxing Ring As Metaphor For Life is a hoary trope almost as old as Hollywood itself, employed to varying effect in films as diverse as THE CHAMP, GOLDEN BOY, REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT, THE GREAT WHITE HOPE, FAT CITY, ROCKY and RAGING BULL. In MILLION DOLLAR BABY, though, Eastwood the director brings a fresh eye and an entirely fresh approach to both the setting and characterisations, virtually re-inventing this venerable sub-genre rather than simply recycling its conventions. Eastwood the actor is in fine form - a commanding if increasingly weather-beaten presence - as gym owner Frankie Dunn. A case study in loneliness, Dunn's creased face is a map of places you'd rather not go to and disappointment has clearly been a life-long companion. Co-stars Hilary Swank and the magnificent Morgan Freeman, playing Frankie's unlikely protegee Maggie Fitzgerald and friend "Scrap-Iron" Dupris, give what are without question the best performances of their respective careers: deftly underplayed, their roles provide emotionally overwhelming impacts more powerful than anything glimpsed in the film's riotous fight sequences. Forming an iron triangle forged from mutual dependence, Dunn and Dupris school the impulsive but untutored Maggie in both the techniques of boxing and the tradecraft of survival in a world pre-disposed to pulverise individualism. The canvas-floored square ring becomes the arena in which all three characters confront their various demons, battling for both victory and personal redemption. Paul Haggis' screenplay is itself a masterwork, improving on its source material without betraying the concise but compelling situations and superbly drawn characters found in F.X. Toole's short stories. And, finally, Eastwood the composer's elegiac but unobtrusive score is a minor classic of its kind, a requiem to both lost souls and lost causes. MILLION DOLLAR BABY is not only the best film released in 2004 it is also the most fully realised and richly textured major studio movie of the decade.
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Best boxing film since "Raging Bull"?
thedwork22 December 2004
Clint Eastwood is a man of faith. He is an artist who is confident and experienced enough to have a deep faith in the audience that he is trying to reach. He is also a master of omission, of the left-out detail/line, trusting in his gut that his audience is willing to participate in his films by exercising their imaginations; that they never want any aspect of the story to be 'dumbed-down' for ready consumption. In fact, his trust in the audience to use their own minds to fill in gaps is like a gift of part ownership in the film. "Million Dollar Baby" is a beautiful gift, and a masterpiece if film-making.

Eastwood plays Frankie Dunn, an elder boxing coach, manager, and expert 'cut man' who runs a gym and is learning Gaelic on the side. He's a nice enough guy, but he can't seem to shake the guilt from ghosts in his past (some we're in on, some not quite). His guilt/shame is a constant just beneath the surface and gives him something of a cold exterior, sometimes frozen. Yet, as played by Eastwood, you know Dunn's aware of his own plight, but just doesn't know how to melt the ice. Or more importantly, if he's deserving of such a meltdown.

Enter Maggie Fitzgerald (Swank). She's a thirty-something trailer trash woman from southwest Missouri. An unlikely hero for sure. But for my money, Maggie is this generation's Rocky. That may seem an easy, simplistic, and over-reaching comparison, but the parallels are deep, obvious and myriad. Like many people, Maggie's dream (being a professional boxer) is always just out of reach, yet she cannot give it up. She works as a waitress to make ends meet (or at least the ends are almost touching), but spends all her spare time training. Like Dunn, Maggie has her own ghosts haunting her, and through these ghosts they bond tighter than super glue. The heart and work (incalculably huge amounts) that Swank put into becoming Maggie are unnoticeable. It's a silly phrase but it's as if she was born to play this part. It fits like a glove. The real life parallel of her relationship to Eastwood no doubt played a part in her ability to connect with the character's relationship to Dunn. Yet this in no way diminishes her accomplishment. She is brilliant.

Morgan Freeman plays Dunn's right-hand man (Scrape) at the gym, and reprises a role similar to Red from "Shawshank Redemption". He also voices the omniscient narration to the story, a la Red. Like Dunn and Maggie, he's similarly bruised, but somehow less deeply. He's there when both of them need support and helps to bring them together. I can think of nobody acting in film today who can embody kindness and wisdom through friendship and support better than Freeman. He also serves to bring in another Eastwood trademark – 'Banter'. Even when themes are heavy, Eastwood's sense of humor is never entirely absent and he and Freeman have a good time with each other, as did Bacon and Fishburne in "Mystic River". These three characters together create a beautiful and true, albeit small, family unit Eastwood's lifelong themes and 'blurring of lines' are on full display: good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, the role of violence, redemption, guilt/shame over previous acts, even god and death. Never one for easy answers, his version of the truth lies in the shadows, quite literally. Cinematographer Tom Stern crafts characters in shadow, shifting in and out of light. There is a grey area between the light and the dark where something approaching truth lies waiting, and this is where Eastwood takes us, then leaves us there to ponder. "Million Dollar Baby" is a shadow play. As accomplished as "Unforgiven" and "Mystic River", yet even more personal, this film is a triumph of human storytelling. As Bacon's character says in "Mystic River", "…and the hits just keep on comin'."
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Eastwood stands as a challenge to his conscience when he finds the correct answer in his heart…
Nazi_Fighter_David15 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Million Dollar Baby" is the story of three different characters… Actually, two of them, Frankie Dunn (Eastwood) and Scrap Iron (Freeman) are pretty much mirror images of each other…

Frankie owns a rundown Los Angeles gym where he trains up-and-comers… His motto for his fighters is "protect yourself at all times." Scrap is an elderly ex-boxer who helps out around the gym and keeps Frankie company… Frankie was the 'cut-man' in one of Scraps' fights that turned bad… Frankie still feels he's partly to blame…

But 31 year old Maggie (Hilary Swank) is totally different… She works as a waitress but aspires to be a boxer… She is so poor that she has to pick leftover meat off her customers' plates just to have the energy to keep going…

Maggie needs boxing to make something of herself and gain respect… When she first approaches Frankie, asking to be trained, he told her he never trains girls… She continues to hang around and after much harassment he eventually changes his mind… From there, we begin to feel some natural affinity between the two…To say more would be to ruin a lovely, heartbreaking film carefully layered with surprises…

Beneath "Million Dollar Baby," there is a love story… A deep love story between two people with scars in their lives... Both are haunted by family problems… Maggie's family, led by her opportunistic mother is alternately cruel and exploitative… Frankie has an unloving daughter he writes to constantly, but his letters always returned unopened, unread and intact… We never know what came between them…

Eastwood handles his role with such ease that it's hard to judge whether his acting or directing is the greater accomplishment… He stands as a challenge to his conscience when he finds the correct answer in his heart…
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Sure to be a contender for the Academy's Best Picture of the Year
don-35516 December 2004
Saw "Million Dollar Baby" in Manhattan last night. Clint Eastwood, one of the all-time most famous actors -- and directors -- has more than enough money where he could choose to pull the strings on block-buster, mindless action pictures, ala Jerry Bruckheimer, or comic books. Or, hell, in his twilight years he could just lay back and enjoy his millions. But no. He has chosen instead to make quieter, lower-budget, heart-felt, character driven films like "The Unforgiven" "True Crime" "Mystic River" and now Million Dollar Baby. And the world is a better place for it. Eastwood uses his multiple talents to make films that have something valuable to say. In the emotionally powerful, Million Dollar Baby, he tells an allegorical tale of boxing to subtly express themes of hope, redemption, sacrifice, persistence, and belief in one's self. The movie emphasizes that failure is a more honorable and personally fulfilling trait than never having tried, while also frowning upon laziness and leeching off others. But see the movie and judge for yourself. I personally consider great films as the ones where I leave the theater with a better understanding of human nature, or a desire to improve the world by even a little bit. Eastwood's latest more than succeeds on those counts.
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larryg511 January 2005
The movie is excellent. Hillary Swank deserves to receive the Oscar for her performance. I haven't seen much of her lately and am so glad that she was picked for this movie. She seems a natural for this role. Like she didn't even have to act, she just let her own emotions take charge. She stole every scene when she was on. Clint Eastwood is one heck of an actor and his directing of movies is even better. He is 75 years old and hope he has another 10 years of good movie making in him. Morgan Freeman is a great actor who never seems to receive the recognition he deserves. Tell others to see it because it isn't in the top 10 listing of viewed movies last week. I'm concerned the subject matter is too deep for most people and it will be pulled to make room for some lame-brain movie like Fat Albert.
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One of, If Not, THE BEST Film of the year
flipgirl387 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Million Dollar Baby, 25th feature directed by masterful storyteller Clint Eastwood, brings the art that is boxing and implants such raw emotion into it, not one person will leave the theatre with a dry eye.

Million Dollar Baby tells the story of an old boxing trainer, Frankie, disowned by his daughter, left by his boxer, and has been attending mass almost daily for the past 23 years in the hopes of finding some sort of solitude from the sins he can't seem to forgive himself for. eastwood has never been a more finer actor, who's skills only seem to improve with age. Mr. Eastwood has for so long been honing his acting skills, he disappears into the role of Frankie, played with such remorse, such pain, the audience immediately sympathizes with him over the events that have happened in his life. once he meets Maggie, he tries so hard to not let her in, but due to her strong will to succeed, he gives in, grows and builds a relationship and a love that is so deep, he sees a light at the end of the tunnel, that maybe life is worth living after all. Mr. Eastwood took full control of his character, taking his acting to such depths that it's amazing to think of all the other aspects he put into this masterful film besides his extraordinary acting.

Which brings up Hilary Swank, who in the past few years has experienced a bad run of scripts since Boys Don't Cry, again proves to Hollywood that when given the right material, she is absolutely stunning at becoming and knowing her character. Her face is so expressive the film very well could have been carried off of her facial expressions alone, she was so open to what she was feeling. Swank has cemented an Oscar nomination with this performance and quite possibly her second win as well. Just stunning...

Which of course also leads to the wonderful Morgan Freeman. How this talented actor has not been recognized for his achievements by the Academy is astounding, as he again turns in a tremendous performance as Scrap, an old boxer Frankie feels responsible for for the loss of his eye. freeman plays the exposition or the narration in this film, and given to any other actor the performance would have been average. Yet Freeman has such a presence, such power on the screen, that he turns a semi-small part and makes it a standout.

The score was poignant, thoughtful, and enduring. the screenplay was stunning, the words these characters said to each other, the story, the plot, the list goes on and on. Do not come into this film and expect not to be moved in any way. The film touches you, stays with you, and makes you think of the own decisions you have made in your life and how you've dealt with the consequences.

Million Dollar Baby is hands down THE BEST film of 2004, bar non. See this extraordinary film while it's still in theatres, and prepare to be moved by it's emotional story about overcoming adversity, and fighting with all your heart for what you want in your life.

HIGHLY Recommended.

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Intoxicating, Brilliant, Inspirational, and Multi-Layered- what films are meant 2 B
poetellect30 January 2005
Wow- what an incredible movie! There are so many layers to this film, one could almost see it 4 times and get something new out of it every time. I loved first and foremost its message that we create ourselves through our drive, loyalty, ambition, dedication, and work. Secondly, I love its insistence in the good of the American Dream, and I loved its excitement and beautiful, touching message toward the end. A movie about violence and ambition that evolves into a movie about love, hard-earned sacrifice, and doing something meaningful with one's life. Grade A entertainment with a beautiful message to boot! Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood should both win their second Oscars for their contribution to cinema.
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Clint, I love you
jp_rental13 February 2005
I've been infatuated with Clint Eastwood from the time I saw his first spaghetti western when I was a teenager. I've seen all the movies he's starred in and directed. And I've seen his skills as a storyteller develop, mature and grow. Throughout this period the infatuation remained constant and re-assuring. But today, after viewing 'Million Dollar Baby', I'm totally and completely in love with this man. Clint, his movie, Freeman and Swank deserve to win Oscars in every category for this film. He is a Master of his craft. I want him stick around and do it again and again!.

And I'm in love Hilary too!. She does not act - she becomes!.
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Big girls don't cry
jotix10030 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
If anyone had doubts about the genius of Clint Eastwood, they should run, not walk, to see "Million Dollar Baby", perhaps the best movie that came out of Hollywood is past year.

Mr. Eastwood has that rare quality in choosing an odd story to bring to the screen. With this film he accomplishes what could be, perhaps, the best movie about boxing in history. In the first place, the story by F. X. Toole, in which the movie is based, is an odd choice. We have seen, so far, men boxers, but there is a world out there where women boxers compete in this sport that is not well known, or not commonly seen. The adaptation by Paul Haggis is excellent.

"Million Dollar Baby" has a rhythm of its own, seldom seen in boxing formula pictures. Thanks to Tom Stern almost black and white cinematography, this sordid world of second class gyms in the poor areas of the inner city, makes the film more interesting in its texture. Enhancing it all is the great musical score that Mr. Eastwood, a jazz enthusiast, has created. Music has always complimented Mr. Eastwood's work, but never in such a way as in this movie.

If you haven't seen the film, please stop reading now.

Frankie Dunn, is a man who has trained boxing champions. He is a man at odds with himself. He has demons within him that are tearing away at his soul. We watch him going to mass on a daily basis, but does that qualify him as a devout Catholic? Not according to Father Horvak, who sees a troubled soul in search of redemption.

Frankie's letters comes back, returned from a daughter that wants nothing to do with him. Frankie, at the beginning of the film, loses the services of one his better boxers because a richer competitor is willing to pay the fighter much more. Frankie keeps the older Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris employed in the gym because he feels guilty in having let this former boxer down at the highest point of Scrap's career.

Into this world comes Maggie Fitzgerald. She is a young woman who wants to make it as a fighter; she comes from a white trash background and everything is against her. The only reason she has been allowed in the all-male gym is because she has paid six months worth of membership. We watch Maggie as she struggles on her own without any help from Frankie, the man she would like to interest in coaching her. Frankie realizes there is potential in this young woman, who he sees on a daily basis practicing, and he relents. Maggie proves she follows his instructions well. Then we watch her progress as she wins fight after fight until the million dollar fight with the vicious title holder.

The ironic twist toward the end of the movie arrives out of nowhere; it shakes us up because it was totally unexpected. It makes Frankie and Maggie become father and daughter. Because of the guilt he feels in his own life, Frankie does the right thing in accepting the responsibility of the situation.

The ending is the only thing that feels a bit manipulative in the film, although it's handled with a lot of taste, as it would have been worse in the hands of another, less capable director. The only other complain is that Mr. Eastwood speaks in a whisper, which distracts from what is going on, as we strain our ears to catch every nuance of the brilliant dialog. Also, the voice over by Morgan Freeman's character is at times, unintelligible.

This is a film totally dominated by Clint Eastwood. As an actor, he brings to the role total credibility as the tormented soul inside Frankie. Hilary Swank makes a brilliant Maggie, the ambitious girl that gets much more than what she bargained for. Ms. Swank has the best moment of her career after her work in "Boys Don't Cry". Working with the right elements, Ms. Swank is an actress that works with little gestures to achieve her input in the character she is playing.

Morgan Freeman is excellent as the beaten Scrap, a man who "could have been a contender". He underplays this character with sensational results. Brian O'Byrne, a theater actor who has been seen in two important plays this year in the New York stages, makes an impression as Father Hovark, who seems to understand Frankie. Margo Martindale is convincing as Maggie's mother.

Sometimes it takes a lot for a film to be good. All the right elements were gathered by Clint Eastwood for this movie. It makes one wonder what will his next project be, or if he can surpass the milestone he created with "Million Dollar Baby".
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Swank! Eastwood! Freeman!
lavatch8 January 2006
It would be difficult to imagine a more perfect trio of performers the likes of Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, and Morgan Freeman in their respective roles in the emotionally-charged "Million Dollar Baby."

My favorite scenes were the early sequences in which Maggie (Swank) visits the dowdy boxing gym and co-opts Eastwood's crusty boxing trainer Frankie into becoming her mentor. Along with the veteran, retired boxer Eddie, played by Freeman, the performances were as electric as the Ali shuffle.

In the overall arc of the story of "Million Dollar Baby," there were three extraneous subplots: (1) Frankie's visits to church and his talks with the priest; (2) the story of the mentally-challenged young man named Danger, who appears in the gym and is taunted by the boxers; and (3) Maggie's family members introduced in two scenes filled with such vulgarity that much of the film's hard-earned credibility was lost. Not only would the film have worked effectively without the subplots, it would have been a much better film without them.

While Eastwood's direction was superb, much credit should also go to the designers, especially the stylish work with lighting. I cannot recall a film as dimly lit as this one, and the subdued lighting contributed substantially to the characters and mood evoked in this sensitive film. The three main performances were standouts. But this film was also a very successful team effort.
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Unforgettable, Touching, Human, Realistic, Sad, Spectacular – One of the Best Dramas I Have Ever Seen
claudio_carvalho28 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Yesterday I finally saw the great Oscar winner of 2005, and I can say that "Million Dollar Baby" really deserves the awards of best film, director, lead actress and supporting actor, and even the prize of lead actor in the hands of Clint Eastwood would not be a mistake of the Academy: Ben Kinsley and Jamie Foxx were great, but in a whole I would have given the award to Clint Eastwood.

The story is very simple and real: Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), a poor thirty-one years old waiter from the very lower classes and with a dysfunctional loser family, decides to make a difference through the box. She convinces the experienced hardened box trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) to couch her and be her manager, with the support of his old partner Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris (Morgan Freeman), who sees her potential as a boxer. Frankie has a problem of relationship with his daughter, and practically adopts Maggie along her career, until she is seriously wounded in a fight for the championship and he has to take a decision.

This unpleasant and sad theme, in the hands of another director, might have become corny. But the awesome Clint Eastwood deals with such touching story without final redemption, very realistic, making a future unforgettable classic in the genre. The characters and the dramatic situation are perfectly developed, and in the end, the viewer becomes sad, but never depressed. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "Menina de Ouro" ("Golden Girl")
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Moved by Emotion
Minervaowls25 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
At the end of the movie, I cried what deep sorrow I felt, how true to life and moving with emotion this movie is. To be on top of the world to fall so hard, but to have the drive to complete the task, what ever that task may be. The boxing scenes are so real and full of excitement you can almost smell the blood and sweat. I felt like I was in the arena boxing with Hillary. MR Clint Eastwood; has a directing style that is cool and smooth easy going,brilliant. To see Morgan Freeman together with Clint Eastwood two great actors verbally sparring what a treat. Morgan can hold his own against a legend. Hilary Swank Is so believable as Maggie, I feel each blow. Hilary deserves an Oscar for her performance.
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mike-levin21 December 2004
Saw this last night in LA without much knowing what to expect. Hadn't read many reviews...only knew I liked the work of the three main stars. Swank carries the film and is at her absolute best. The last 45 minutes are some of the most powerful film-making I can remember. Eastwood is also in top form but allows Swank's performance to trump his own. Freeman is outstanding and might have done enough to earn a Best Supporting Actor nomination. This is so much more than a boxing movie, but it's right there with "Raging Bull" and "Rocky". I saw "The Aviator" two days ago and enjoyed "MDB" more.

However, the film is not without fault...Eastwood has a tendency to allow scenes to go on too long and to fill them with too much dead air. The dialogue at times appears a little too ad-libbed. There are some minor logical inconsistencies. But the positives far outweigh the negatives.
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namashi_121 August 2010
Clint Eastwood is a legendary film personality. I am a great fan of his. As an actor, I had my reservations with him, but as a storyteller, I have truly inhaled him. 'Million Dollar Baby' is amongst his finest films, a superb film, that almost reaches a Landmark level!

About a hardened trainer/manager works with a determined woman in her attempt to establish herself as a boxer. 'Million Dollar Baby' begins with some humor, then it improves itself into becoming a motivational punch, but ends as a dry and depressing saga. I adored almost everything about the film, except the final 20-25 minutes. The culmination is very depressing. In fact, one just doesn't imagine it would have to end this way! But in all fairness, this one is a winner!

Eastwood's understanding to the subject is objective and that's biggest plus point. Tom Stern's Cinematography is splendid. Joel Cox's editing is razor-sharp.

In the acting department, Hilary Swank delivers a Knock-out performance. She is the life of the show. Morgan Freeman is wonderfully restrained. Eastwood's performance, is a pure of example, of apt multi-tasking. Jay Baruchel as Danger, is flawless. Anthony Mackie is his usual self. Brian F. O'Byrne is passable.

On the whole, the list of accolades this 2004 flick received is truly unprecedented. It's got a legendary tag. From this writer, Thumbs Up!
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Another Subtle Story by Clint Eastwood
nycritic30 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Three people carrying their own injuries and baggage meet and form an unlikely friendship that slowly becomes familial. Frankie is a man who has lived his entire life in the service of boxing but for reasons left unknown, has an estranged relationship with his daughter, so he has little else to do but be at the boxing gym and train. Eddie is one of his better boxers, a quiet man who can still throw a punch, and who lost an eye in an ill-fated match. Though these two men have a close-knit friendship Frankie still bears tremendous guilt over Eddie's loss. And now, a girl of all people -- Maggie -- wants Frankie to train her. She has nothing going for her, she knows it, and boxing is a way out. While at first Frankie sees no future for her -- she's 31 and has no experience -- he gives in and decides to train her to become the best female fighter ever... until tragedy arrives and gives their lives an unexpected left turn that will change them forever.

What could have been a feminist's answer to ROCKY becomes something different, revelatory. Clint Eastwood, a film director that chooses to direct his films in a deliberate pace more akin to late-night jazz, takes F. X Toole's short story and re-shapes it into visual poetry that unfolds into a tight tapestry which by the end of the film will have stirred many emotions with nary a manipulative hand in sight. Clint Eastwood finds a quiet note with his performance as Frankie, the man who could have been a curmudgeon but becomes a surrogate father to Maggie. His final words to her, in Celtic, are whispered in such a fashion, yet convey an immense gravity. Maggie herself is a complicated character: her life is boxing, she has become to symbolize the sport, and in doing so she's achieved so much in a world where all she would have been is white trash. She has a family who thumbs their noses at her career yet want her money. However, she is not an aggressive woman. If anything, she is polite, humble, respectful even when she shouldn't be. Hilary Swank strikes every note in her own rendition of the character: a soft spoken fighter who is faced with a horrific turn of events and must relinquish her love of sports. Morgan Freeman's performance is also of note, mainly because much of it happens off-screen: his measured voice, the one who tells the story, evolves into one who brings much needed closure later on.

I felt that the film spoke to me for most of its run. Maggie's story was especially compelling (even if a little predictable) but what resonated with me were the reactions of Eddie and Frankie who have less 'action' and more 'reflection'. This is a much better film than MYSTIC RIVER in the way that much of the focus is on the three leads' bonding as a quasi-family in a world that doesn't care about people like them. It takes its time, then captures your full attention, and before you know it, you are immersed in these three lives because these are people you could meet in your lifetime. And that makes a great film, especially when about the little people who are looking for that special place to live out their final years.
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This movie is about the meaning of LIFE
RachelLone7 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Once again, Clint Eastwood did it. 'Million Dollar Baby' has proved to be an overwhelmingly powerful film. Because of this movie, Hilary Swank won her second Academy Award after winning an Oscar for her role in 'Boys Don't Cry' five years ago. Also, Morgan Freeman finally won the same award for Best Actor in a Supporting role, which is well-deserved. I cannot help mentioning Eastwood's previous work 'Unforgiven' and 'Mystic River'. I think he is a brilliant film director.

Maggie Fitzgerald (Swank) is a 31-year-old waitress who aspires to become a professional boxer, despite her age. She finds Frankie Dunn (Eastwood), a boxing trainer with a fine reputation and who runs a boxing gym, hoping he will help her. But 'I don't train girls', says he.

Notwithstanding the fact that he has turned Maggie down, she goes to the gym everyday to practise on her own, even though she doesn't know how to do it right at all. Her strong will somehow impresses Scrap (Freeman), an assistant and caretaker at the gym, a former boxer who loses an eye during a boxing fight. He starts to encourage Maggie and teaches her some basic things. Eventually, Frankie decides to train her, out of her amazing will power. Maggie trains intensively, because THIS is her dream, her only pursuit, she wants to get there, and in the end, she does get there...

Within a couple of years, Maggie is ready for fights. She is indeed a natural, and it is owing to the fact that she works so very hard. Even though at times she has to confront tougher boxers, she makes it anyway. She never backs down. She becomes rich and famous, and she firmly believes her achievement would make her family proud. Now what she wants to do is to take good care of her family.

But her nearly penniless mother despises her, because she thinks being a female boxer is simply ridiculous. She is 'ashamed' of Maggie, laughs at her, and her other family members are totally indifferent.

By then Maggie and Frankie have developed a father-daughter relationship. As a matter of fact, the relationships between Maggie, Frankie and Scrap are quite intriguing. This picture portrays their interaction perfectly.

'Millon Dollar Baby' strikes you when it's least expected. There are many points which leave you wonder: what price dreams? What do you live for? For basic survival or for reaching your goal, so you can be your true self? Are you willing to pay for it? No matter what? And what is LIFE about? If you had seen the film, you would understand what I'm talking about.

Maggie has a family who takes her for granted, and Frankie has a daughter who never sees him, who always ignores his letters. In the end, all they've got is each other, but after all they have gone through, after all the respect Maggie gains (Scrap says 'Boxing is about respect. You win respect and take respect from the other guy) and Frankie's being so proud of her, they have to lose each other.

This film makes people think. Deeply. This year's Academy Award Best Picture nominees are all good, I have seen all of them, but I would vote for 'Million Dollar Baby' without any hesitation.
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One of Clint Eastwood's Best Works
gigan-9225 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This film is one of Clint Eastwood's best films ever!!! The story is simple but draws you in and never let's go. The characters are simply too thrilling. Hillary Swank steals the show a bit with a sad and brutal story of a very tormented woman's life with incredible power. Enough to bring viewers to tears in fact. Morgan Freeman is great as a supporting actor and he definitely deserves some recognition for his performance. Clint Eastwood himself deserves an Oscar for his excellent directing and own spectacular performance. His role was perfect, creating a strong yet vulnerable character people will embrace. The climax will touch you as his character is given a choice that decides life and death. The score is moving in itself and I simply love this film.
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There's good, there's bad, and there's ugly - in sum, barely mediocre
wainot22 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Please forgive the 'cute' subject line. Also, I never intend to throw in spoilers, but in evaluating the film with total honesty, it's sometimes necessary to do so. I also don't believe in plot summaries, as you can read hundreds of them elsewhere on this very site. In some ways, this evaluation reads best if you've already seen the movie. One or two more notes: I came into this film, as always, wanting to love it, and hoping to be transported, and at times it did take me for a good ride. Also, I happened to love Mystic River, the last directorial effort by Eastwood (Frankie),I could probably listen to Morgan Freeman ("Scrap") do a voice-over of The Congressional Quarterly, and though I never saw Boys Don't Cry, I am convinced there is an earnestness and an inner beauty to Hilary Swank (Maggie) that impresses me. Okay, on to the evaluation:

The good: Swank's performance as Maggie -- she did all she could with the role, although it wasn't the most interesting character, and she was ultimately let down by poorly drawn peripheral characters and a very mediocre script. Freeman is always good, and Eastwood's acting was pretty good. The look of the film was OK, the 3 leads looked their parts, the gym looked authentic, and it gave some insight to the job of the cutman. And, at times (but not often), the voiceovers added to the film. Also, some of the byplay between Frankie and Scrap was good stone-busting, yet it never elevated to great drama or great humor - just okay

The bad: The voiceovers too often told you what to think, or what was coming. They did not enrich the story, a la Shawshank, but often were patronizing, and seemed to be a device to cover for what the "action" could not do. All of the other characters - outside of the big 3 - were poorly drawn, and two-dimensional --all of them! For a movie that gave you pretty good boxing scenes and insight, it made no sense that Maggie didn't win the title on The Blue Bear's obvious disqualification. The backstory between Scrap and Frankie was not very interesting or textured. We never get enough, or really anything, about why Frankie's daughter never reads his letters. (That's not minimalism - that's just sloppiness. And, it's not like the film doesn't hit you over the head at other times.) Also, why does Maggie - the ultimate fighter in life and in the ring - suddenly do a "180" and want to die? There are so many shortcomings here: Why didn't the scenes with the priest really come alive, intellectually or emotionally? I don't mind that the movie switched tones, but aside from a touching moment or two between Maggie and Frankie, it had very little to say, and it didn't really explore the issues with any depth.

The ugly: There was absolutely no subtlety to the depiction of Maggie's family (and they couldn't have been a minor force in shaping who she was) --just horrible, lazy, mean-spirited screen writing here. A little bit of the Danger character went a long way --was there any explanation as to why he was still doing his idiot act for months on end at the gym? Again, he was too stupid to be truly sympathetic, and too cartoonish to be anything less than pitiable. Not funny, not even dramatic - just ugly.

When I watched this movie, I thought it was about an '8" or a "b". Every time I reflect on it, I get angry at the bad script, the two dimensional characters and the wasted talent, and the inability to really involve us, other than wanting to see Maggie (the ultimate diamond in the rough) make it. So, at best, this movie, on reflection, was a "D" -- I say this with sadness, and the feeling that if I keep thinking about it, its grade will plummet further.
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Vastly Overrated
maggotbrain7031 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I find the praise that MILLION DOLLAR BABY has received from critics baffling. I did not feel that the film connected on an emotional level, and that it was more like watching stock characters in action. Hillary Swank is very good, but her character moves from amateur boxer to championship contender while showing practically nothing in between. Clint failed to impress me with his performance (and I am a Clint fan), and Morgan Freeman continues to be highly overrated. The second half drags considerably, and I felt the whole third act to be very manipulative. I know I'm in the minority, but I felt a dissenting opinion should be voiced.
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A Lot to Think About
spake015 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I just got home from watching this movie, and it has left me thinking.

I personally think the movie was wonderful. I've read reviews where people say that the euthanasia was unnecessary, etc. However, I feel that the euthanasia was extremely important to the film. Once Maggie could no longer fight, she had nothing else to live for. Her family was trash. She was happy, and wanted to die happy. I think it had a happy ending.

I'm tired of movies that have perfect endings and the ending is exactly what you expect when you walk into the theater. This movie proves that happy endings can come in a variety of ways, just depending on how you look at it.
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Terrible movie in many ways
mbrent71119 July 2005
I thought I was going to see THE movie of the year. Must have been a bad year.

Aside from the factual inaccuracies of the portrayal of a quadriplegic woman, the stereotypical "white trash" family, the cartoonish boxing, and the ridiculous "Danger" character, it was OK.

In the end, the movie proves to be a cheap political statement, and sends a terrible message in the process. I was paralyzed from the shoulders down at age 18. I'm not on a ventilator as Swank's character is, but I am totally dependent on others for feeding, dressing, etc.

This movie just perpetuates the myth that sustaining such an injury leads to a meaningless life. Swank can choose between school and death, and she chooses death. Thank you for setting the disabled community back a few more years.

What have I done differently? I've gone to college, lived on my own, and work as a respected journalist in the community. Where is the story about someone like me? Why does every disabled person in a movie have to be a punchline in a joke or depressed and angry? For the record, my feelings about the message don't have any bearing on my feelings about the quality of the film. It just wasn't that great.

My opinion is the only reason it received such acclaim is a) Clint Eastwood, and b) it deals with a controversial subject. We know Hollywood loves to wax on political issues. If you watch this movie, please realize that the depiction of Swank as a quadriplegic is poorly researched. Hit me up if you want to know what it is really like.
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