Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this masterful handling of some very generic content that embraces both fable and melodrama. This relationship and love story, set in the world of boxing, heads in one direction and then suddenly switches stances to do battle in yet another arena. Geriatric boxing-gym owner (Eastwood) reluctantly agrees to train a female fighter (Hilary Swank) under the watchful eye of his benevolent caretaker (Morgan Freeman). This gritty, funny, flawed and moving tale about bonding and estrangement, fulfillment and pain, guilt and redemption, and desperation and commitment feels way too familiar at times and then surprises us as it meanders deep into mythic milieu and then takes a huge, provocative risk of its own. Paul Haggis, who has penned TV scripts including The Love Boat
and L.A. Law
, adapted the screenplay from Rope Burns: Stories From the Corner
, a collection of short stories based on experiences of the late “cut man” Jerry Boyd (pen name: F.X. Toole).