Its 2:56 am and I just finished watching Million Dollar Baby. I can't disagree with the The New York Times Movie Review that called it
the best movie released by a major Hollywood studio this year, and not because it is the grandest, the most ambitious or even the most original. On the contrary: it is a quiet, intimately scaled three-person drama directed in a patient, easygoing style, without any of the displays of allusive cleverness or formal gimmickry that so often masquerade as important filmmaking these days.
If you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and get the DVD - it just came out this week. Clint Eastwood is his usual brilliant self - from Joe to
Harry Callaha to Frank Horrigan, Clintwood has always been a stellar actor and a tremendous tough guy. As grizzled boxing trainer Frankie Dunn, he may have his toughest, most bad ass character yet. Think Burgess Meredith meets George Patton. On top of his tremendous acting job, he has also turned into one of Hollywoods top directors, and this movie - with its haunting soundtrack, gritty cinematography, alternating tempos, and tear jerking honesty may be his best work yet.
Hillary Swank, originally from Lincoln Nebraska, nails the part of the lonely, poor and rejected daughter of a Jerry Springer style white trash family from Missouri. Her accent is dead on, and like Survivor urged, she has the Eye of the Tiger as she first lobby's for a place in Clint's gym and then directs her own rise to worldwide stardom and the world championship. I've now seen her in perhaps the two most unladylike roles possible - as a boxer and as a brutish and confused lesbian and I've got to say she is a hottie.
Not much needs to be said about Morgan Freeman. He continues to be, simply put, one of the best in Hollywood. This performance, from his supporting role as Eastwood's former protege and current assistant Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris to his calm, cool, and collected narration of the film, is second only to his breakthrough role in the Shawshank Redemption (I know he had a ton of roles before that - I believe he was nominated for an academy award in Driving Miss Daisy - but for me it was his work in Shawshank that really sets him apart and will be remembered for generations). To quote Bill Crystal, simply marvelous.
There is a tremendous twist at the end of the movie which is foreshadowed by an early conversation between Swank and Eastwood. I won't give it away here, but I warn you that the subject matter is presented in a way that truly conveys the tremendous hurdles one would face if placed in the same predicament.
Tremendous film. Five Flaming Barrels