Million Dollar Baby tells the story of the underestimated. Frankie Dunn is a surly, irritable, and sometimes mysterious old boxing coach. He mostly lives a life of loneliness and guilt over initially unknown past mistakes but is able to find some comfort in the company of an old charge from his coaching career, a former boxer that works as a janitor in his gym.
Morgan Freeman plays the former boxer, a man named Eddie “Scrap Iron” Dupris and serves in the story as Dunn’s close confidant and only friend. Hillary Swank plays Maggie Fitzgerald, an amateur with dreams of becoming a professional success in Women’s Boxing despite being 31 years old. Against his own judgment and at the behest of Dupris and a tirelessly favor seeking Fitzgerald, Dunn agrees to put his expertise to work. He becomes Maggie’s trainer and coach and begins passing on all his boxing wisdom and know how to her. In the course of training and eventual success, Frankie and Maggie form a strong father-daughter bond and begin to think of each other as family. Together, through both success and tragedy, Maggie and Frankie grow in ways they could not have been able to by themselves.
Morgan Freeman narrates Million Dollar Baby from the point of view of his character, Eddie Dupris. Through several parts of the film Dupris elaborates on events transpiring before the viewer, essentially “filling in the blanks”. His narration helps to provide direction and enlightenment. The film includes several montage sequences in which Dupris explains long passages of time and multiple events that the film only focuses on for a few moments, allowing the plot to be further developed without having to sacrifice time in other areas, keeping the feature length reasonable. Elements of the film, such as the letters that Dunn sends his estranged daughter, are able to operate independently of montage or Freeman’s narration due to excellent execution in filming and editing. Symbolism of this type does not require elaboration when properly written and filmed.
This film delivers to its viewers a few important lessons, depending on the viewer. This film is ultimately about second chances and teamwork. Both of the main characters have been around the block once already. Maggie is considered to old to train for going pro. Frankie at first wants to forget about his coaching because he feels guilty for the events that transpired when he was younger. Also, both characters are lost and ill equipped to succeed without each other. Together, however, they are a perfect compliment and are wildly successful.
It would seem these are the messages that Eastwood wants to convey to viewers. Additionally, family seems to be a major theme in this film. Frankie’s daughter, who is assumed to be his last remaining family, does not have an active role in his life. On the other hand, Maggie does interact with her family, but is mistreated, taken advantage of, and generally underappreciated. The lesson taught here is that family is of paramount importance and the bonds of family can transcend blood relation.
This film is deeply stirring. Million Dollar Baby is a gripping drama. Although it is highly depressing, it is immensely enjoyable watching Eddie put a couple of abusive wanna-be boxers in their place, bringing much needed levity and happiness to the film. An important element in movie making is engaging the audience enough that they invest emotionally in the characters. This film does just that, making viewers feel like they are ahead when they see Frankie and Maggie succeed and feeling sullen and morose at their losses. It teaches about life and family, with a strong, positive message about teamwork. Above all it has girls fighting.