Perhaps the director's most touching, most elegiac work yet, Million Dollar Baby is a film that does both the expected and the unexpected, that has the nerve and the will to be as pitiless as it is sentimental.
One of the many pleasures of this beautifully composed, measured movie is how it reminds you of the power of pure storytelling -- an art that's too often overlooked in contemporary films in the rush for sensation and excitement.
Eastwood takes another whack at the cliches on which his career was built. He's made a deliberately paced and surprisingly provocative movie about the toll of failure and the torments of responsibility.
Confident, powerful, a thing of deceptively effortless beauty, Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby shifts its weight in the late rounds -- having seduced us with a gritty underdog tale -- and delivers a body blow.
As Maggie, Swank is a package of dynamite, a determined soul with too much to prove and too little time to do it in, to worry about defeat. Eastwood is so good in this movie, it almost feels like cheating.
The picture uses the familiar boxing milieu -- the dingy gym, the late-night training sessions, the build-up to the Big Bout -- as background for a far more intimate and surprising love story between a surrogate father and a surrogate daughter.
Eastwood scores a knockout as an actor and director with Million Dollar Baby, a spare, exquisitely realized masterpiece about faith, redemption and boxing that beautifully illustrates his longtime philosophy that 'less is more.'
Under Eastwood's painstakingly stripped-down direction -- his filmmaking has become the cinematic equivalent of Hemingway's spare though precise prose -- the story emerges as that rarest of birds, an uplifting tragedy.