Monday, March 14, 2005

Million Dollar Baby

Hers is a life far removed from your own. She grew up as white trash - a trailer, a mom who weighs three hundred and twelve pounds, a jailbird of a brother. Her life had more sorrow than yours ever will. And yet she dared to dream.

Clint Eastwood's movie is all about dreaming. It's about dreaming and working to achieve your dream - no matter how crazy your dream might sound, no matter what the obstacles, no matter how much you have to work.

Most of us are not priviliged enough even to have the ability to dream. And the rest of us, even when we have a dream, deem it unachievable and let it go. Maggie Fitzgerald - Hilary Swank in an unforgettable role - refuses to do so. She is thirty-one years of age and too old to become a boxer - at least according to Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood), a boxing trainer.

But she persists. She saves the money that she earns from her job as a waitress. She eats the leftover food that the diners at her workplace leave behind. She works out in the gym at odd hours of the night. She persists.

Until Dunn sees her potential and takes her on. But he's required merely to guide her. She has the potential. She has the willpower. She has the guts. She is a true champion.


Why should you watch this movie?

The three lead actors - Eastwood, Swank and Morgan Freeman (who is his usual brilliant self)- themselves make it worth watching. The film is darkly humourous - if you have the stomach for it. Eastwood, as usual, allows no bright colours in his movie. Everything is dark and "gritty".

Then there's the inspiration factor. Do you have a secret dream that you are holding yourself back from chasing? Just watch the first half of this movie. You'll find yourself biting at the leash.

The last half hour is overwhelmingly sad. I found myself surreptitiously wiping away the tears that had sneaked out all on their own. Yes, it detracts from the inspirational aspect of the movie. Yet, it provides a brilliant canvas for Eastwood and Swank to exhibit their acting prowess.

Reasons not to watch it?

Eastwood sometimes resorts to cliches. The white trash family has no trace of gray in them - they are portrayed as completely evil, greedy people who are blind to their own faults and after only money. And, of course, Dunn and Fitzgerald have no trace of gray in them either - they are wonderful human beings who help out whoever needs them.


Overall, the movie definitely lives up to the expectations raised by the fact that it won four of the six most important Oscars. Go watch it. Don't expect to enjoy it. Expect to be sucked out of your life. Expect darkness. Expect joy. Expect tears to stream down your face.
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