Million Dollar Baby is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time, and one of the toughest to watch. The fight scenes have savage choreography–real boxers could never fight like that–but those scenes just soften you up (as if with a meat tenderizer) for the last part of the film, which is completely devastating. Do not see this movie if you have any plans to be happy for the next day or so, but it’ll give you plenty to think about. It’s a movie about many things, but at its root, I think it’s about looking at what loyalty means from different angles.

There’s no wasted motion. Clint Eastwood strips everything down to the moral consequences of one’s actions, and omits or barely sketches legal, financial, and everyday issues that would just get in the way of telling the story. The cinematography is equally economical and beautiful.