Thursday, February 5, 2009

Gran Torino Review

I've read lots of reviews of this movie, and I'm pretty far behind the curve on seeing it, but as the only non-horror/kiddie comedy available yesterday I finally got to see it. It was terrific. Clint Eastwood was definitely overlooked when it came to the acting nominations. I'm guessing he's #6 in the list, with only 5 getting nominated. Clint plays a retired blue-collar worker in the mid-west living in a neighborhood that has transformed into an area of mainly immigrant families around him. He's the curmudgeon who thinks kids don't respect their elders or themselves. The movie starts with his wife's funeral and his grandchildren arrive in a Lions jersey, a midriff baring shirt and texting during the funeral. Clint spends much of the movie growling at the disrespect and unraveling of society he sees around him. One night he wakes up to find the neighbor kid, Thao, trying to steal his beloved Gran Torino. Clint chases him and the gang off with one of his many guns. In return, Thao comes to work for him, because in his Hmong family he's dishonored the family with his actions. Clint gets him to do all kinds of things, both for him, and for the neighborhood. Thao's father recently passed away, and the exposure to a strong male role model helps transform Thao a bit, but in return Clint also has to let go of some of his racism.

Overall, this movie has lots of funny bits, which surprised me. Clint's character, Walt Kowalski, is incredibly racist, but he's a fairly equal-opportunity racist. Everyone he meets, black, white, asian, etc. are subjected to some sort of racial slur. There were so many, I'll admit I'd never heard some of them. Eventually, he's able to use some of the stereotypes and racial slurs as jokes with Thao's sister, Sue. Between them, humor takes the sting and insult out of some of what Walt says - Sue does a good job of turning around Walt's racism into ignorance with humor. He's such an ornery character that it seems he only uses slurs, not because he necessarily believes them, but to get a rise out of the other person so he can be tough and manly. There's a lot of humor in that.

Ultimately, it's a story of sacrifice and standing up for yourself and for what's right, and I really liked it. There were a few moments of strange direction/cinematography, but hardly worth mentioning. 4.5 stars/LAMBS.


Reel Whore said...

I rated this one pretty high, but I'm a huge Clint fan. Obviously with good reason. Great recap, that was the most difficult thing for me to write in my review.

CMrok93 said...

Gran Torino is not Eastwood's best film as director or actor but it perfectly encapsulates his onscreen persona and his brilliant directorial career.