DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood’s film Million Dollar Baby is deeper and more profound than a three point sermon could be if you’re sitting in church. In fact Eastwood’s character Frankie Dunn does go to mass every week and pesters the local priest about theology with delight. Much the same way this film asks questions to you as an audience about the fights we’ve been in, the scars, bruises and chips on our shoulders we carry around.
Frankie Dunn (Eastwood) is a boxing trainer who is gruff and angered about something and as viewers we learn what his baggage is during the film. Scrap (Freeman) was once a boxer who now lives at Frankie’s gym. He notices Maggie Fitzgerald (Swank) working the bag. She wants to be trained by Dunn but Frankie couldn’t care less and doesn’t train girls. That’s until his own boxer who he’s training leaves the scene.
Maggie is trailer trash, she knows it, just like she knows what others will say about her boxing but she doesn’t give a damn. She has the heart of a boxer and the passion for her sport.
Eastwood as a director takes you on a journey where we see characters deal with personal scars and bruises and asks the question ” Are you fighting for yourself or fighting against yourself in life?”
I want to explain more about the film but to delve into the plot would be to spoil the intricacies of the plot development and storytelling, including Morgan Freeman’s narration that is used for full effect.
Critics say this is a boxing film without being about boxing. That is true. Boxing is in the background. One of many scenes that spoke to me was when Maggie visits her hillbilly family who live in poverty. She wants to give them more but all they care about are their welfare cheques. They don’t care about Maggie’s passion nor proud for her at all. In the next scene we see Maggie sitting in a car at a gas station as Frankie wipes away the water off the windscreen. It leaves Maggie with clear vision.
All three characters have to make vital choices for their actions and bear a weight for them. Whether those choices were in the past or currently been played out, the film digs into how one fights their battles.
Someone said to me the past is in the past, you don’t have to bring it up. That is true, but if the past still hurts for yourself upon reminder then no one but yourself can resolve it.
These characters here are journeying towards their own resolve.
Eastwood as a director always knows a good story and here he chooses well with Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay. None of the actors overact their part but give subdued performances and allow true emotion to be spoken.
See the film. If you’ve already seen it, watch it twice and allow yourself to be questioned.
Clint Eastwood as Frankie Dunn
Morgan Freeman as Scrap
Hilary Swank as Maggie Fitzgerald