In addition to his problems in
the gym, Dunn is trying to establish a relationship between
and his estranged daughter. He writes her a letter every week
with the hope that she will forgive him for an unidentified
occurrence 23 years earlier. However, each letter gets sent
and labeled, “Return to Sender.” He tries to forgive
himself by attending Mass each week.
Fitzgerald is a 31-year-old waitress living paycheck to paycheck
and surviving off of partially eaten food she scrapes from
her customer’s plates (“It’s for my dog,” she
says after being discovered). When she asks Dunn to train her,
he flatly declines and tells her he doesn’t work with
Despite the discouraging words, Fitzgerald continues to train
alone at the gym during her limited time away from the diner.
Her awkward attempts at hitting the punching bag are mocked
by the male fighters in the gym but her relentless practice
draws the attention of the gym’s caretaker, Eddie “Scrap
Iron” Dupris (Morgan Freeman).
Dunn had trained Dupris who lost an eye in what turned out
to be his final fight. He spends each day cleaning and maintaining
the gym and notices how hard Fitzgerald is working. Feeling
that her efforts weren’t resulting in improvement, he
secretly teaches her some basic boxing techniques and encourages
go after her dream while she is still physically able.
Fitzgerald continues to nag Dunn about training her, stubbornly
refusing to take no for an answer. On her 32nd birthday she
tells Dunn that the only thing she wants to do in life is become
boxing champion and that anything else would not be worth living
for. Dunn agrees to train her, but only if she promises not
to question his methods and most importantly, to always protect
Fitzgerald learns the boxing technique she has been lacking
and starts fighting other women. She is so strong and agile
she knocks out her opponents with ease, and her fights are
over before they really get started. She becomes so highly
that Dunn has to pay other managers on the side in order to
get them to put their boxers in the ring with Fitzgerald.
As the unlikely pair captures the attention of the boxing world,
both student and teacher begin to see each other as family.
Dunn looks at Fitzgerald as if she was the daughter he could
have while the boxer sees her mentor as the father figure that
she had been without since the death of her dad while she was
Fitzgerald works her way up the ranks and earns a fight for
the championship against the best—and dirtiest—female
fighter in the world, Billie “The Blue Bear” (Lucia
Rijker). It is during the fight that the story takes a dramatic
turn and the two become a family.
Million Dollar Baby has been the recipient of critical acclaim
and is nominated for Best Picture and six other Oscars in
the upcoming Academy Awards: Actor in a leading role (Eastwood),
Actor in a supporting role (Freeman), Actress in a leading
role (Swank), Directing (Eastwood), Film editing, and Writing
an adaptive screenplay.
At the Golden Globe Awards held in January, Eastwood took
home the award for best director and Swank was named best
in a motion picture-drama. The film is rated PG-13 due
to violence and coarse language.