Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Million Dollar Baby

2005 Oscar Winner Best Picture

Dir: Clint Eastwood

Tight movie. Not a word spoken that does not have narrative import, not one symbol referenced that does not explode with meaning somewhere in the text. Each character drawn deeply enough, each plot point a necessary progression to realize the vision of the writer and director.

Indeed, this movie is a tremendous example of the kinds of movies that I like best. Get me to care about a set of characters and then put them into situations that move me. Make me think and feel. Hollywood movies have always been strongest when they tell simple stories well; their demonstration of the human condition is what compels us to them. Far too often, films resort to tricks or quirks or sleight of hand or knee-jerk convention breaking to distract us from the lack of true emotional resonance in the story. Such red herring movies are cute and fun when done well, and unwatchable when mediocre. Telling a movie backwards is clever, but it takes an artists' eye to illuminate how we live our lives in new ways.

A movie like this, when done mediocre, is merely forgettable. But a movie of this ilk, one where the craft of story telling is moving and deft, is the height of the medium. The sort of movie that stands the test of time.

Is Million Dollar Baby that good? I am not sure. That is a question that time alone can answer. I do know that it was the best movie from 2005 that I have seen. I do know that the script was marvelous, better written than Sideways. And I do know that even though I knew the ending before watching, I was moved strongly.