Wanting to learn from the best, aspiring boxer Maggie Fitzgerald wants Frankie Dunn to train her. At the outset he flatly refuses saying he has no interest in training a girl. Frankie leads a lonely existence, alienated from his only daughter and having few friends. Maggie's rough around the edges but shows a lot of grit in the ring and he eventually relents. Maggie not only proves to be the boxer he always dreamed of having under his wing but a friend who fills the great void he's had in his life. Maggie's career skyrockets but an accident in the ring leads her to ask Frankie for one last favor. Written by
When Frankie introduces Maggie to one of the managers at the gym, movie lights can be seen reflected in the sunglasses hanging on his shirt. See more »
Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris:
Only ever met one man I wouldn't wanna fight. When I met him he was already the best cut man in the business. Started training and managing in the sixties, but never lost his gift.
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The Warner Brothers logo is the classic shield version, shown in a color palette (mainly black and white, with a dark green tint) matching the "feel" of the movie, and is static instead of the modern 3D animated sequence. See more »
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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