Some Clint Eastwood films of late have been a little hokey. His 2003 supposed triumph, the overrated Mystic River
, was three quarters of a good movie wrapped up with a silly, predictable ending that betrayed the film. Don’t even get me started on the abysmal Blood Work
(2002), where Eastwood’s self-directed performance was the most embarrassing since trading barbs with Burt Reynolds in City Heat
20 years ago. Million Dollar Baby
is a little hokey in spots. It has boxing film clichés that would make Sylvester Stallone apologize, and plot directions that would be right at home in your average episode of The Young and the Restless
. It’s also Eastwood’s best film since Unforgiven
(1992). There’s nothing wrong with hokey if it’s done right. Eastwood plays a grouchy boxing coach, and Hilary Swank plays a boxer wannabe, both delivering some of their best work.