Clint Eastwood’s boxing drama with an Oscar-winning role of Hilary Swank.
Thirty-one-year-old waitress Maggie Fitzgerald dreams of becoming a professional boxer. Initially unwilling to train her as he does not work with women, elderly boxing trainer Frankie Dunn eventually gives in, convinced by Fitzgerald herself and his friend, retired boxer Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris. Contrary to his own expectations, an unsuccessful boxer estranged from his daughter, Dunn becomes a father figure to Maggie, but this connection develops in a space least fitting for parental emotions: the boxing ring. Clint Eastwood’s heart-wrenching drama about the American dream—something of an anti-Rocky—brought him his second Oscar for Best Director after Unforgiven (1992) and the first ones for actors Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank.
Screenwriter Paul Haggis has faithfully captured the paradoxical depressive yet life-affirming mood of America after 9/11. Like the multi-character Crash he released as a director the same year, Million Dollar Baby has a melancholic tone and a cathartic ending. Leaving the romantic life of the protagonist and her dysfunctional family aside, the film is completely focused on her rise to success despite everything. Clint Eastwood’s regular collaborator since Blood Work (2002), cinematographer Tom Stern shot Million Dollar Baby in austere colors, creating an almost black-and-white image. Swank, known for her mastery of physical transformation and had gained acclaim for her role as trans man Brandon Teena (Boys Don't Cry, 1999), competes in her dedication to the role with Robert De Niro in Raging Bull (1980). Oscar material in the best possible way, Million Dollar Baby was one of the most deserving winners in the entire history of the award.
Million Dollar Baby
Director: Clint Eastwood
USA, 2004. 132 min. 12+