#thirtyscenesinthirtydays: Day 23- Million Dollar Baby: The Stool
If you've watched enough movies, if you've read enough books, if you've heard enough stories, there's an instinct you didn't know you had that can kind of predict where things are going. Getting slapped in the face with a twist (i.e. The Sixth Sense, The Usual Suspects) that you REALLY didn't see coming is a rare beast.
It's hard to imagine that an uplifting, underdog sports movie could have such a brutal, blind-siding twist. Million Dollar Baby is up there with My Girl (see: Day 4) in terms of lifting your spirits, getting you juuuuust to the point where our central characters have found their peace in each other, juuuuuuust to the point where they've reached their maximum potential... then takes it's claws, gouges it into your chest, and rips your heart out.
And guess what?! I FUCKING LOVE IT. I can't imagine what Million Dollar Baby would have been like if in the third act of the film, Maggie just continued to pummel opponents, and... what? She has a riff with Clint about something something and then it gets resolved?! NO! No no no no!!! It does not win Best Picture if that happens. It just doesn't.
I call this one of the great twists I've seen because I was SO not prepared to endure what the third act of the film had in store. The tonal shift from boxing movie to hospital drama is so abrupt that on paper, it's insane. Seriously, imagine pitching that in a room...
"So we're going to go full-on trainer/trainee boxing movie for like 90 minutes, we're going to fall in love with this woman who came from nothing and kept digging and digging and defying odds, then, just when she's about to take down her dirty, brutal opponent, we're going to PARALYZE AND KILL HER." It shouldn't work... But it does... oh man, it does!
The last 20 minutes of this film (Maggie's family coming in wearing Disneyland clothes... fuck me) are heart-wrenching. And to be honest, it's the best acting I've ever seen Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, or Morgan Freeman do. And Eastwood revealing in Maggie's final moments that the Gaelic nickname he gave her translated to "My Darling, My Blood" kills me every time...