Clint Eastwood stars and directs another movie that is destined to be a classic: “Million Dollar Baby.”  Hilary Swank plays a waitress who has dreams of becoming a prize fighter.  With almost no skills in the sweet science of boxing, Swank starts training herself in a gym owned by Eastwood and managed by Morgan Freeman.

Eastwood plays a veteran trainer of boxers; he is great at what he does, tough but caring of the fighters under his guidance.  Freeman plays a retired fighter who had his shot but never made it.  Not wanting any part of training “a girl,” Eastwood slowly comes around after his only fighter leaves him for another trainer/manager, and after much prodding from Freeman and Swank.  Under the supervision of Eastwood and Freeman, Swank’s natural abilities as a boxer quickly comes out.  She goes pro, usually destroying her opponents in the first round.  But a future fight with a champion who happens to be a very dirty fighter will force Swank to use every bit of advice she received from Eastwood, especially the part about always protecting yourself.

One of my memorable, movie moments of “Million Dollar Baby” is the scene when Eastwood notices the holes in Freeman’s socks.  Eastwood asks why he wears them.  Freeman casually replies that he likes his feet to be aired.  Eastwood asks Freeman that if he gives Freeman money, would Freeman buy socks?  Freeman says the money might find its way into the track.   To the casual observer, this is just a quick bit of comedy relief that shows how two old friends break each other’s  chops.  But this scene is a subtle depiction of a man’s struggle with gambling addiction.

Coming in second place for my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Swank pleads to Eastwood to train her.  Yes, she’s a bit old to start her training — damn, that sounds like something from “The Empire Strikes Back” — and she displays very little boxing ability; but Swank says she has been working hard all her life, and this is the only dream she has and wants.  Without the opportunity to be trained as a boxer and hopefully go pro, she has nothing.  So if Eastwood sees potential in Swank, then train her.  Otherwise, go away.

First place for my memorable, movie moment of “Million Dollar Baby” is the scene when Eastwood finally reveals to Swank what her nickname “Mo cuishle” means.  It is the most powerful moment of the movie, and I’m sure many viewers cried during that scene.  I admit I did.  I didn’t cry like Matt Damon, but I shed a few tears.

Eastwood seems to have the magic touch as a director/actor.  His movies have the ability to stay with you long after they are over.  That comes from the combination of great direction, great acting, a great script…you get the idea.  The Oscars that “Million Dollar Baby” has received are well-deserved.

— M

 

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