A Nurse with a Gun

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Million Dollar Baby

First, I know it was released in 2004. I prefer to wait in blissful ignorance about movies until I know they are worth my time. I also prefer to crash on the sofa with reasonably priced snacks and beverages and enjoy the damned show without loud greasy kids, big haired women, or stupid comments from the crowd. So it was when I finally purchased a previously viewed DVD of Million Dollar Baby. I knew the film had achieved aclaim at the Oscars, I just did not know exactly why. Now I do.

I suppose I was expecting an updated Rocky. I got that and more. Eastwood was sublime in his approach. Hell, you hardly even knew it was him. That is no small accomplishment for an actor of his stature. Likewise, Morgan Freeman slipped into the role of Scrap so easily that Morgan's familiar face disappeared from my conciousness.

Then there was Hillary Swank. Damnation. She did what few actors or actresses have done. She created a person so believable that every character she plays afterwards will be Maggie Fitzgerald playing someone else. Billy Bob Thorton did that in Slingblade. As the director, Eastwood never, never, forgets that less is more, and gives just enough information to tell the story. And what a story it is. If you have managed to remain ignorant of the story like I did, you think you know it. You do not.

Since I am likely to be the last person ever to give a review of Million Dollar Baby, I will let my predecessors' exaltations stand. I can hardly give it any more significant praise. This movie was unique. You can live without seeing it, but your life will be richer if you experience it. If you have not seen it yet, stop reading here. Get the movie and see it.

Now for my criticisms. I wish this film had been researched as much from a medical standpoint as a boxing standpoint. Any nurse or physician who has worked with paralysis can tell you this was not done. Three errors in Act 3 were glaring. Decubitus ulcers do not form in the popliteal area. Thier placement there was necessary only for cinematic camera angles. People who are taken off a ventilator rarely go gently into the night. Finally, epinephrine (called adrenaline in the movie) does not cause asystole.

Movies and TV have long used the nasal cannula to show that someone was really, really medically compromised. Every nurse I know snickers when they see this cinematic device. Seeing a trach vent to indicate the same was refreshing. Of course Christopher Reeve made that idea acceptable in Hollywood. If they had done a little research, the third act of the movie could have been as plausible as the first and second. But then, I'm not a boxer, so what do I know?



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4:58 AM  

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