Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Sorry for the lack of update in the last few days, even though i finished my thesis but other real life matters get in the way of me keeping this blog updated. So yeah, i am that busy. I have a couple of movie review i have not finished from Q film festival as well as a couple of new released films. But for now, let me published this one for my monthly moviecube, which i already owed for N (who wrote a great review on Gary Ross’Seabiscuit)
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I chose the film based on the fact that: a) it was nominated for an adapted screenplay from the academy awards (i need an adapted film for my 2nd moviecube), b) it is a sport theme film, more specifically an individual sport-type (boxing). I don’t know why the films i chose leaning on the martial arts side of sports (following mixed martial arts featured in Warrior). Narrated by the one and only Morgan Freeman, the movie followed three characters whose faiths sort of intertwined with each other. Going into the movie, i really did not expect the kind of journey i would go through, and i’m glad i never read the spoiler. If you haven’t watched this already, go watch it before reading this, because i’m pretty sure it CONTAINS SPOILERS.
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Million Dollar Baby revolve arounds three main characters: Maggie, Frankie, and Eddie. Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), a hardworking waiter who scrapped coins to buy a pair of boxing gloves and saved leftover food to survive. The ultimate objective in her life is to become the greatest female boxer under the guidance of Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood). Frankie is a a gym owner and a trainer, who immediately dismiss her (‘i don’t train girls’, he said). The narrator of the story is Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris (Morgan Freeman), Frankie’s friend and employee, who also encourages and helps Maggie, and sort-of become the one who brought them together and finally see eye-to-eye.
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The film felt like it was divided into two halves, where the conclusion becoming a separate journey on its own, which become a strength of the film in my opinion. The first half told the story of the all three characters, where they come from and what their objectives are. Hilary Swank mesmerizes in her role as Maggie, in her simple hillbilly mindset whose sole driving force is her family. Clint Eastwood’s Frankie is deliberate and detached, trying to recover and mend a broken relationship with his daughter to no avail. Morgan Freeman’s Scrap, ties Frankie’s past and present, he was a boxer, a fight away from going for the title himself before an altercation during a fight stopped his career abruptly. The pacing of the first half is immaculately done and beautifully told through Freeman’s narration and Tom Stern’s cinematography. But there’s a formulaic predictability, of underdog shot to fame story, about it that made me question the critical fame the movie had. The real twist came in the second half, that transform the story almost completely. It could’ve ended with Maggie winning and concluded like a glorious, inspiring success story of a living American Dream. But what Eastwood delivered was a tragic turn of events that explores basic morality in human and brought this movie out of the normal sport-movie convention.
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Even though the unexpected twist was poignant and harrowing. What attract me most to the film was how each of the character finally manage to have their own redemption. Scrap manage to had that last fight that he yearned for. Maggie manage to have a family and a new father figure he found in Frankie. And Frankie manage to find that father-daughter relationship that he missed in her relationship with Maggie. Maggie’s nickname from Frankie, sum up their link profoundly, Mo Chuisle. The phrase means “My love”, “My darling”, translated in the film as “My darling, my blood”, derrived from an old Irish expression: A chuisle mo chroí, meaning “O pulse of my heart”. Symbolizing him taking her under his wing as his ‘daughter’, showcasing the familial bond the two shared.

“If there’s magic in boxing, it’s the magic of fighting battles beyond endurance, beyond cracked ribs, ruptured kidneys and detached retinas. It’s the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you.” ―Scrap. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
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The film script based on a collection of short stories titled Rope Burns by F.X Toole (the pen name of a fight manager Jerry Boyd). It endures development hell, due to studios rejecting the $30 million budget despite Eastwood signing as both actor and director for the film. The film initially released in a limited run, before it was wide-released to a commercial and critical success. It received numerous accolades including Best Picture, Best Director for Clint Eastwood, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Hilary Swank, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Morgan Freeman, and several other nomination in the 77th Academy Awards. Definitely not your conventional sport film, but i think it’s a masterpiece of its kind.

MBD00MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004)

GENRE Sports, Drama DIRECTOR Clint Eastwood | PRODUCER Clint Eastwood, Albert S. Ruddy, Tom Rosenberg, Paul Haggis, Gary Lucchesi | WRITER Paul Haggis | MUSIC Clint Eastwood | CINEMATOGRAPHER Tom Stern | PRODUCTION DESIGNER Andy Nicholson | EDITOR Joel Cox | STUDIO Lakeshore Entertainment, Malpaso Productions | DISTRIBUTOR Warner Bros. Pictures | COUNTRY United States | BUDGET $30 million | RUNNING TIME 132 minutes | RATING PG-13 for violence, some disturbing images, thematic material and language | RELEASE December 15, 2004

STARRING Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman

All pictures are taken from IMDb

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7 thoughts on “Million Dollar Baby (2004)

    • i watched the film for the first time before i was writing this review :D it definitely worth to revisit!

  1. I really liked Million Dollar Baby :) The performances were brilliant. I still think it’s one of the… how should I put it… weakest ‘Best Picture’ Winners of the Academy Awards. Compared to other films of 2004, it just wasn’t the best of the year. So many people call it a masterpiece, whereas I just found it to be very good.

    What are your opinions? :)

    • I personally found the pacing and the script to be brilliant, especially for a film of its genre it stood out and i think calling it masterpiece is not too far-fetched. I did not remember a lot from 2004, to be honest. Actually, this is my very first time ever seen the film :) But, I heard a lot of people said similar comments about this film winning the Best Picture.

      If it’s up to you, which film would you pick as the Best Picture winner of that year?

      • I’d pick from Hotel Rwanda, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, A Very Long Engagement etc. Whether they were nominated or not, that’s what I would have picked. Out of the actual nominees, it’s likely that MDB was the best of the five.

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