It’s a well made film, but I didn’t really like it. To be fair, Million Dollar Baby suffers the same uphill battle to please as does Sideways right now. These two movies have been put on so many Best lists, won so many awards on the road to the Oscars, and been hailed by so many critics, they can’t help but fail to live up to the hype. I know many people who were deflated by their response to Sideways. The same holds true for me with Baby.
Million Dollar Baby is about a crotchety boxing trainer who grudgingly takes on a scrappy 31-year-old woman with dreams of being a contender. The acting by the three leads is first-rate, though Clint Eastwood will always be “Clint Eastwood as…” for me; he doesn’t really act, he just is. I could have done without Morgan Freeman’s cliche filled Shawshankesque narration. And I hated the character of Danger, an out-of-place bit of comic relief. The cinematography and lighting are the real standout, muted, somber and heavy with shadow. And Clint’s soundtrack? Well, like Oscar-nominee John Williams, I think all his soundtracks sound alike.
On my Netflix 2-cents-worth review I said that I left the theater no different than when I went in. Not really what you’d hope for after a two-and-a-half-hour-and-nine-buck investment. It was nothing original and in the end, it failed to move me. The big element of drama turned out to be predictable and manipulative. Not to mention an Oscar voter’s wet dream.
I thought I liked Clint Eastwood more as a director, but looking over his filmography just now (and clearly remembering how much I disliked Mystic River,) I realize I’m misremembering. My strong recollection of Unforgiven, a movie I really liked, has colored that perception. And Million Dollar Baby doesn’t convince me otherwise. [**1/2]