The daily life of Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) revolves around his rundown gym and the sweat of aspiring boxers. Alone and without family, Dunn is a person with little feeling or emotion. One day, a girl named Maggie (Hilary Swank) walks into the gym and disrupts the flow of male hormones. Hoping to get noticed, Maggie returns to the gym every day. She buys a membership with the little money she makes as a waitress and trains for long hours. Soon, Frankie decides to give Maggie a chance. This is the beginning of their incredible journey together.
The success of “Million Dollar Baby” is a result of “million-dollar” acting. Each scene allows the audience to become enthralled and feel the pain that Frankie and Maggie endure physically and emotionally.
Eastwood portrays Dunn as a reserved man with a mysterious personal life. Swank comes alive in the most grueling scenes, whether in the ring or out. Maggie’s kind heart and inexhaustible determination create a character that everyone roots for. Morgan Freeman plays Scrap, Frankie’s considerate partner, who supports Maggie and believes in her dream. His narration gives no opinion but sets the story perfectly for all to grasp.
On screen, the trio creates a well-balanced story. The opposite personalities of Frankie and Maggie make room for their relationship to grow. The two tackle every fight together, in and out of the ring. Maggie even becomes known as “Mo Cushle,” which was Frankie’s nickname for his “million-dollar girl.” What starts as a boxer-trainer relationship soon becomes a father-daughter bond.
Million-dollar lessons can be learned from the trio’s journey in the boxing world. Maggie displays qualities of optimism, perseverance and determination. Toward the end, she is in a discouraging situation that doesn’t crush her spirits. She has the ability to find opportunity in the smallest places that makes her that much stronger. All Maggie Fitzgerald wants is a chance to become a boxer - she achieves that, and more.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.