Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gran Torino

Gran Torino, named after a solid, elegant, uber gorgeous and precious 1972 Ford guarded very closely by the protagonist. It is indeed a striking drama directed by the same man who played the lead role, Clint Eastwood.

Walt Kowalski (Eastwood) served his time in the military and paid his dues at the auto plant. This retired autoworker alienated by his ignorant, oafish grown sons and their selfish children. He just want to spend his days as a widower in peace with 'Daisy' (his dog), the only companion he has.

If you think Walt is just another sweet, happy and loveable old man, then you are wrong. Simply put, he is a bitter, cantankerous and crusty man who thinks peopls stink. He's obnoxiously rude to a baby-faced Catholic priest (Christopher Carley) who, fulfilling the dying request of Walt's late wife, urges Walt to go to confession.

He certailnly against a world that's changed and won't change back no matter how hard he glares. Change has certainly come to his run-down Detroit neighborhood. A fatherless, multigenerational Hmong family moved into his blue-collar Detroit suburb. The family includes a quick-witted daughter, Sue(Ahney Her) and an uneasy younger teenage son Thao (Bee Vang). He hates them to the core and often adresses them as "eggroll," "fish-head" and "Charlie Chans".

Walt's worst nightmare comes true one evening when Thao tries to boost the old man's vintage Gran Torino. To be specific, he was forced to do so as part of a gang (local Hmong gangbangers) initiation. Walt catches Thao in the act who is considered bringing shame to the family.

Walt then, met Sue and the rest of her family in the neighborhood. Being a lonely old man in a traditional American way, he began to feel the contrast. His neighbourhood filled with people who spoke some weird Asian language gather most of the times with family members cared for their elderly. What a contarst indeed!

Thao's try-to-steal attempt was somehow comes to the knowledge of his sister and mom. They pressures him to work for Walt to pay off the debt. So, at the instigation of his sister Sue and his mom, too, Thao begins working for Walt. He did not only atone for his attempt, he also found a role model and a father figure who would go to great lengths to teach him and initiate him in the ways of men.

This odd-pair develops a relatioship eventually, during Thao's paying-off-debt process, to be specific. Thao accepts more responsibility and Walt grows less intolerant. The old man who was once hate the current set of teenagers starts to look atleast Thou and his sister in a different perspective altogether. The plot grows as Walt tries to find Thao a job, lending him his tool kits and molding him to be a fine man.

Everything is smooth until the Hmong gang hurt Sue. It is to revenge Walt (and Thou who struggles to steer clear of them since the beginning) who warned and beat one of the gang members to leave Thao alone.

In the end, Thao becomes the redemption of Walt. He willingly lays down his life so the gang members who hurt Sue and Thao could be arrested by the police.

¤¤¤ Great Points ¤¤¤

The movie's plot is simply superb. To tell the truth, I couldn't predict what Walt would do at the end eventhough he was shown buying coat and haircut. He even went to confession! When he planned and calculated his plans so well,I thought he will finish off the Hmong gangbangers with his weapon. Unfortunately, no. That was not the climax.
He attacked the gang's household with his cigarette and the lighter he had since 1951.The peak of this movie really touching and powerful. At first I thought it was going to be a drama, Well, it was. But, it was more than that. Walt became more amiable and likable enough towards the end of the movie.

¤¤¤ Bad Points ¤¤¤

It is, decidedly, was about Clint Eastwood and the way he carried his role with perfection. I would say his potrayal overshadowed the rest of the cast. Without Eastwood this film would be nothing more than a manipulative Lifetime channel made-for-TV movie, but his involvement elevates it - somewhat. I think acting of the rest of the cast in the story were not up to standards. They could make use of additional acting workshops. (That’s rather harsh, I know.)
Besides, the dialogues come with swearing words more often is undoubtfully not suitable for children.

¤¤¤ On the whole ¤¤¤

Gran Torino aims and hits its target pretty darn well. If you ask me, I’ll tell you to watch it! Gran Torino is definately worth your money and your time.

My Rating: * * * *


  1. Nice review, bro.

    Eastwood has said that this might be his last role onscreen. And it perfectly summed up all the great roles he had played, the westerns, the cop movie, the war movies, the dramas. You can't get a better swansong than this movie. Too bad it never made it to our shore, so I had to settle for DVD.

  2. Pretty well summed up. Your observations on the film is quite in sync with mine, I should say. ;) Just that I thought the dialogue is awesome. Clint's minimal use of music is //Yayy// as well!

    BTW, Rated outta?