Gran Torino (2008)

Posted: December 26, 2008 in Movie Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

Director: Clint Eastwood / Cast: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her

Gran Torino’s less obvious coming of age story revolves around Walt Kowalski (Eastwood), a recently widowed Korean War veteran. Walt is a racist killjoy, who lacks basic people skills with even his own family, let alone the world around him. But he has managed his way through life, fine enough, up to the opening of the film’s story. Walt’s life changes when his neighbour, shy teenager Thao Lor (Vang), is bullied into stealing the Gran Torino by a gun-toting Hmong gang. Walt scares him away and the next day pulls his gun on the gang, winning the admiration of all the Hmongs in the neighbourhood. Thao’s mother and older sister Sue (Her) insist that Thao confess to Walt and make amends. Walt agrees and the two develop an unlikely rapport. Gradually Walt’s understanding of the family next door leads him to unlock his own damaged soul and confront demons from his past.

The film explores themes such as racism, friendship, vengeance and redemption. The story of Gran Torino is not outstanding. But it is the sublime direction by Eastwood and simplicity of the whole film that brings it to life. Eastwood commands the screen and delivers a memorable performance for the last time as an actor. Unfortunately this touching story is hampered by some truly atrocious acting by most of his inexperienced supporting cast.

The climax is generic where too much happens fairly quickly which makes this film good but not great. It’s a movie that shows self redemption is just as important as vengeance. It’s a movie to be discussed and enjoyed. It’s a movie of friendship in the most unlikely places. This film will make you laugh. It may even make you cry. But it will also make you think about some things you thought you were long ago done with thinking about.

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