Thursday, October 13, 2005

Million Dollar Bullshit: Warning: Spoilers in here! I have to agree with you here. The stock characters were embarrassing, the film cliches were appalling, and the long shots of Eastwood, face partly shadowed, brooding, were a poor substitute for actual character and emotion in the role. I was disappointed with Clint's previous directorial effort (also much praised), Mystic River. It had the same sense of actors not inhabiting their characters, but going through the motions to work us through the plot, doing things with no other motivation than to, apparently, advance the story.

I called it emotional pornography at the time, and I think that's true of Million Dollar Baby, too. It's all formulaic -- the backstory, the foreshadowing, the characters -- intended to give your feelings a workout. But I felt very little for these characters, probably because they were thin as tissue paper. The gruff, brooding old trainer who keeps his hopeless protege at arms length and hides his heart in insults and sarcasm? See Merideth, Burgess, in the aforementioned Rocky. The wise-old-hand narrator, beaten down by circumstances, who provides the moral compass for the movie? As you said, Freeman can just Xerox his Shawshank character. And the fighter who paralyzes Maggie? She just has to be a dirty, remorseless violence machine, right? No way you'd want to, you know, complicate that with any human emotions, would you? It's just lazy film making, honestly. I need a little more than this to get interested in the characters, to give a crap whether Clint pulls the plug at the end.

1 comment:

Razor said...

I thought Mystic was about 100 times better, and while I'll agree the characters were of the plug-in variety, I felt Clint squeezed out a ton more from them, and that you were genuinely interested in how a group of young boys all turned out as "grown ups".
Clint tends to make you buy in a bit too heavily into certain stereotypes (in that case, the Boston Southies), but I felt he really tried to be honest. In Million Dollar Baby -- it was all phoned in ahead of time.