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Movie Review: Million Dollar Baby

Alternate Title: Ode to Title IX

Story: Director and writer Clint Eastwood has delivered a knock out punch with this wonderfully absorbing film.

What begins as a run of the mill story about a down and out boxing gym in Los Angeles, with the stereotypical characters one usually sees in a film about boxing, slowly develops via masterful storytelling into a captivating saga about people we really care about.

A hard scrabble young woman believes she can become a boxing contender. She is able to enlist the aid of an old time trainer. Through her sheer mettle she starts her long climb to reach her life's goal.

Midstream, the story abruptly changes direction and it hit me like a powerful punch to the gut. I actually heard myself gasp audibly (and that NEVER happens to me).

It is a moody and darkly lit piece. It is a powerful film about sacrifice, family, love, redemption, gumption (I love gumption), religion and the power of trust.

Acting: Hillary Swank delivers another performance as good as the one she gave in Boys Don't Cry. She is an earthy young woman who should stick to these emotional contemporary roles in the future. Clint Eastwood was terrific as the old time trainer. He has hit his stride at 75 years old. Morgan Freeman as the sidekick gym manager, uses his Shawshank Redemption narrating philosopher voice throughout. He is always good even though he seems to play the same part all of the time.

Predilection: None.

Critters: None.

Food: Lemon pie has a big role.

Visual Art: Too dark to see if there was any art around except for some old black and white photos of boxers.

Soundtrack: An original Eastwood score. Unobtrusive and bluesy.

Opening Titles: None.

Theater Audience: Very crowded for the opening show at 11Am on a Wednesday. Some of the people looked like they had gone a few rounds themselves.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Drift Range: I did not drift at all.

Squirm Scale: 3. I don't like boxing and find it hard to watch those gloves meet flesh.

Predictability Level: I did not know where this film was headed.

Tissue Usage: Oh yes.

Oscar Worthy: Yes.

Nit Picking: I am not crazy about narrators and some of the ancillary characters were not necessary.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen. For someother great films about boxing try: Raging Bull, Somebody Up There Likes Me, The Hurricane, The Great White Hope, Ali and Girlfight.

Length: two hours and fifteen minutes.