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Million Dollar Baby

September 5, 2010

Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Actors: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman

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Synopsis: A washed-up boxing coach, Frankie (Clint Eastwood), begrudgingly agrees to coach a wannabe female fighter, Maggie (Hilary Swank), until tragedy strikes….

Review: This is a hugely portentous film whose reception will vary dependent on the viewer’s inherent reverence/disinterest in the Clint Eastwood cinematic ‘brand’. The first part of the movie with its re-treading of a familiar character arc (Hilary Swank’s character’s career rise under the tutelage of Eastwood’s grizzled old pro, Frankie) is charmingly told, aided by the excellent rapport between Eastwood and Morgan Freeman in their sage roles. The switch to full-on ethical drama in part two, though potentially a clever about-turn feels more an undercooked attempt to apply extra gravitas to proceedings. Themes of Frankie’s guilt over an early tragedy in his professional life (a familiar plotline from his other films), plus the spiritual crisis subplot seem like transparently lame rhetorical devices. That said, Eastwood – as actor – essays a superbly commanding and moving performance, and the sheer will of his storytelling brio is hard to deny in the gut-wrenching climax. (February 2006)

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