Sunday, January 30, 2005

Million Dollar Baby (IMDB) (Netflix)
Clint Eastwood produces, directs, scores and co-stars in this tale of an aging boxing trainer who reluctantly takes on female wannabe Hillary Swank. Morgan Freeman is the long-retired contender that Eastwood's character managed back in the day. Both men have baggage that would require a team of porters, and Swank unknowingly brings it all to the surface—she just sees boxing as her way out of waiting tables and to helping her (undeserving) family.

The recent accolades, however, are deserved. This is Eastwood's best film since "Unforgiven", Freeman is Mr. Automatic and Swank gets it completely right—persistant, desperate, naive, ruthless in the ring. The going gets a little tough toward the end, with some of the audience's sniffles not cold- and flue-related, but they're well-earned, and there are plenty of up-beats throughout to sustain the momentum.

Highly recommended.