Million Dollar Baby
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby is full of love and compassion without one ounce of schmaltz. This balance comes primarily from character development.

Frankie (Clint Eastwood) is a trainer who owns a small boxing gym in Los Angeles. He’s Irish Catholic and goes to mass every morning trying to seek the answer to why he hasn’t heard from his daughter for decades and why all the letters he writes to her are returned unopened. Morgan Freeman is Scrap who once boxed for Frankie and now lives in a small room in the gym. Frankie has never forgiven himself for not stopping a fight that caused Scrap to lose an eye. They have one of those very male friendships where their love for each other is only seen in how they disagree and argue. Enter Maggie (Hilary Swank) who grew up in trailer parks in southwest Missouri and has been waitressing since she was 13. Making it, as a boxer, is her one hope to escape what she grew up knowing: She “was trash.”

Frankie resists all her advances to train her as a boxer, but she never gives up and remains faithful to her hope and to Frankie’s abilities to fulfill it. Watching her wear Frankie down is pure poetry in motion. Eastwood, as director, takes the time to show how a father daughter love blossoms between the two characters. It’s simply a beautiful thing to watch and can’t help but fill your heart with joy.

No special effects needed in this film. You just grow to love these characters with all their faults and learn to respect their accomplishments.

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