Million Dollar Baby Destined to Elicit Praise
- Thursday, January 20, 2005
As an actor, Eastwood is also at his best, aided by a well-rounded character of infinite subtlety. Frankie may hide in the corners of life, but he's a thoughtful, prayerful man. At church, he hammers his impatient, surly priest (Brian F. O'Byrne) about theology. With infinite foreshadowing, the script has Frankie ask about those supernatural paradoxes that plague us all, like the Trinity and the Immaculate Conception. That Frankie is a doubter, there is no doubt, but who isn't, at one time or another? And while he may enjoy bantering with the cantankerous priest, he appears to be a true seeker. That his priest does not provide answers is perhaps the tragedy that leads to the tragedy of the film. And the priest's insistence, in a latter scene, that Frankie is fast approaching the limits of God's grace, demonstrates exactly what bad theology does. It hurts people. And in this case, the damage is irreparable.
Million Dollar Baby makes a strong case for euthanasia. It presents an unambiguous situation where an innocent victim is completely paralyzed with no hope for recovery. That person also very much wants to die - at least in the moment - and even attempts suicide, which exacerbates the injuries. Because of the overwhelming pull of the situation, the euthanasia is presented as the only option for anyone with a shred of compassion. Without a doubt, if there is a case to be made for euthanasia (despite the rarity of these clear-cut circumstances), this is it.
As Christians, however, we believe that God, not us, is the author and giver of life. We also believe that this God, who is not distant and unreachable, but personal and present, longs to give us hope and comfort in our darkest hours. A panacea, He is not. But a place of new beginnings, even in the most devastating of circumstances, He most definitely is - should we choose to embrace and trust Him. That process, euphemistically called the Christian Walk, is one of continually looking to ways (often, incredibly complex ways) that are higher than our ways, and that stretch our character to the limits. This is one of those situations.
The challenge, of course, is how we discuss such matters, and of not insisting upon superficial answers (which Christians are often perceived as offering, particularly when we have no answers). We live in a culture where life has little value, and where "quality of life" - an ambiguous term, if ever there was one - supercedes all else. Condemning without conversing, therefore, will accomplish only alienation. Instead, we must be slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to listen. After all, the motive of those who believe in euthanasia is compassion - a bridge of opportunity between the two sides in this complicated issue.
Million Dollar Baby is not a movie for children, nor is it appropriate for even mature teens, who have yet to develop the emotional filters necessary to analyze a film with such a strong emotional pull. Adults, on the other hand, will be able to glean truth in the edges of this narrative, particularly the desolation and increased isolation that ultimately befalls the characters, as a result of their choices. Hopefully, the film will also be used as an excellent discussion topic with those of differing opinions.
- Drugs/Alcohol Content: People drink beer at boxing matches in several scenes; someone refers to another person getting drunk; two characters drink beer in one scene; reference to a mixed drink in another scene.
- Language/Profanity: Approximately four dozen obscenities (including one "f" and another mouthed "f") and a dozen profanities.
- Sexual Content/Nudity: Lewd reference to main character's breasts with sexual innuendo; several slang terms for anatomy; female character works out/fights in sports bra; male character refers to "naked women;" brief shots of cleavage and scantily-clothed women.
- Violence: Much boxing violence, including hitting, punching and various injuries (some legal, some not) resulting from fights (bloody nose, broken nose, dislocated nose); mentally-challenged character is viciously attacked in boxing ring after asking to fight; character resets a bloody, broken nose onscreen; character goes reeling to the floor in a match from an illegal punch, breaking neck on stool; hospital patient makes failed and bloody attempt at suicide; character kills another character by injecting solution into an IV.
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