Million Dollar Baby


70% of this Clint Eastwood actor-director job is a formalist sporting movie, from the blue black and white of its colour palette, to its rags to riches journey from a boxing gym to a world title bout. And at the core of this familiar story is a sweet dynamic between coach Frank, a man with daughter issues, and spunky underdog Maggie, a woman with father issues. No prizes for guessing where that goes.

The other 30% of it is so horrible, so totally and utterly abject, it’s a wonder how anyone imagined it could have been reconciled with the optimistic genre cinema that preceded it. At least some part of the blindsiding shift is deliberate, but then again, it followed what for my money was an unintentional Darth Vader reference. Genre cinema stuff in other words. Not: a broken spinal column, quadriplegia, attempted suicide, followed by assisted suicide from surrogate father to paralysed surrogate daughter. C+

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