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“Protect yourself at all times” is Frankie Dunn’s (Clint Eastwood – getting not older, but only better) motto. He runs a shabby boxing gym with his only friend Eddie (Morgan Freeman – the archetypical wise old man), a former boxer who once lost an eye after a fight – for which Frankie still feels responsible. But Frankie’s sense of responsibility and his over-cautiousness don’t protect him from getting hurt – there are other managers who won’t hesitate to get fights for their impatient charges be they ‘ready’ or not, and young aspiring boxers are leaving Frankie in search for success.
Then comes Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank – radiating with energy and emotion), a girl from a trailer park with a dream. All she has is her dream of becoming a boxing champion – and she wants Frankie to train her. He ‘doesn’t train girls’, but with persistence and a little help from Eddie, he finally gives in and agrees to train her – ‘Only train, not manage!’ – that’s until a sleazy manager puts her into the ring too early.
From then on, Maggie is ‘his girl’, and while she goes from victory to victory under the fighting name ‘Mo cuishle’, their relationship grows closer – Frankie becoming her father figure and gradually lowering his emotional protection, accepting Maggie as ersatz-daughter for his own estranged daughter. But neither of them is prepared for what the future brings …

As a boxing movie, it’s the best one since ages – the fight scenes easily outmatch anything you have seen on screen since centuries, and if you think girls can’t fight – ‘Mo cuishle’ might beat the cr*p out of Rocky Balboa. But boxing is merely a metaphor for life itself, and one of the main lessons of this film is that ‘protecting yourself at all times’ and taking no risks won’t get you anywhere. Frankie learns this lesson when another one of his protegés is leaving him, and he takes the risk of putting Maggie out there in the ring – but more importantly he takes the risk of lowering his emotional defenses and letting her come closer to his heart. With great risks come great rewards – but taking those risks also means to face the possible consequences …
Clint Eastwood excels as director, actor and composer, Morgan Freeman (when does this man become president of the United States?) is just perfect – but both are outshined by the vibrant energy and emotion Hillary ‘Mo cuishle’ Swank brings to the silver screen. You want to know what ‘Mo cuishle’ means? Like Frankie, i won’t tell – you have to watch the movie to find out.

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