Friday, May 1, 2009

Million Dollar Baby

Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), an amateur who aspires to prove herself by becoming a successful boxer, is reluctantly taken on by Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood), a brilliant but down-and-out boxing trainer who has been cast aside by his colleagues and relatives, including his estranged daughter, Katy. Dunn helps Maggie realize her goal while developing a stronger-than-blood bond with her. Initially, Dunn's attitude towards Maggie is indifferent, because she is female and already 31 years old. Maggie, however, perseveres in her attempts to win Dunn's favor by training each day in his gym, even when others discourage her. Frank's friend and employee, ex-boxer Eddie "Scrap Iron" Dupris (Morgan Freeman) narrates the story in non-dialogue scenes.
Dunn writes to his estranged daughter every week but receives no replies. Dunn's priest cannot fathom why Katy would not respond and instead doubts Dunn's claims that he writes to her. Dunn himself, lacking a close relationship with his daughter, establishes a strong one with Maggie, whose own family cares little for her well-being. When Maggie buys her mother a house, she is not grateful and castigates Maggie for putting the welfare scam she and Maggie's sister are running at risk. Dunn coaches Maggie and manages her professional career. With his expert help, she fights her way up to the women's welterweight boxing division, and eventually ranks high enough for a match in Las Vegas against the WBA women's welterweight champion, Billie the Blue Bear (played by real life boxer Lucia Rijker), who is known to get away with committing fouls.
During the match, an illegal attack by Billie causes Maggie to hit her head and neck on her corner stool, which the frantic Dunn is unable to move out of the way in time. As a result, Maggie is paralyzed from the neck down, and Billie apparently retains the championship with no police charge. Dunn, venting his rage at the injustice, initially blames Scrap for convincing him to train her, but in the end blames himself for having worked with her against his better judgment.
In a medical rehabilitation facility, Maggie hopes that her family including her brother, Mike (who is played by British Actor Chris Jób) will visit her, though Dunn repeatedly calls them with no success. Eventually, the family arrives—after first visiting a Universal Studios theme park—with an attorney in tow (In the end the family did move into the house Maggie bought them), to arrange the transfer of Maggie's assets to them. Dunn is appalled, but Maggie gets the last word when she lets her mother know that Maggie actually has the title to the house she gave to them and gives her mom a choice: leave and never contact her again, or have Maggie sell the house and get tossed into the streets without a cent. Her defeated family disappears and do not return. Eventually, she confides to Dunn that she has "seen it all" and asks to be relieved of her suffering. Dunn refuses to help her die, but does speak with his priest, who objects to the idea of euthanasia, sympathetically but firmly saying that it is murder and if Dunn does this he will be lost to everyone including himself. Maggie then attempts suicide by biting her tongue multiple times in an attempt to choke to death on her own blood. Though hospital staff prevent further suicide attempts, Dunn decides that Maggie's suffering should not continue, and he injects her with an overdose of adrenaline.
Just before administering the injection, Dunn finally tells Maggie the meaning of the nickname by which he has called her; the phrase, Mo Chuisle, which he says is Irish for "My darling, my blood", (although the actual meaning is "My pulse"). Afterwards, as Scrap explains, Dunn disappears. Scrap's narration is revealed to be a letter to Dunn's daughter, Katy, informing her of her father's true character.


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