While the passionate, rose-tinted glasses of Hollywood has conjured up much love for the fictional and real heroes of the boxing world, Million Dollar Baby strives to strike down with some harsh, cutting realism. Its grim and dingy aesthetics capture the tepid grey tones of director Clint Eastwood, but at least this time they have a reasonable purpose. Sweat, blood and tears throw themselves around the walls of a gym, providing Eastwood and company with the opportunity to build themselves as fighters, and as people. Distant emotions make themselves uncomfortable almost immediately, and as Million Dollar Baby pushes its stars towards an inevitable reconciliation of fighting and fears, the emotional strain on them all comes to the centre of the stage.
Drama films are ten a penny these days, you can accidentally stumble onto a couple hundred of these pieces of Netflix. Wading through such masses of content isn’t any good for anyone, so we either turn to the reliable star power of A-listers looking to pack a quick, dramatic punch, or something so left of field that the originality of the narrative swamps the less-than-desirable cast. I opted for the former, in this instance anyway, and I ended up with What They Had, an immediately forgotten drama directed by Elizabeth Chomko. Pooling together an extraordinary cast is no match for poor marketing, and it seems this piece musing on the importance of family ties has been all but lost.