Skip to main content

Movie Review: Gran Torino



-->
Gran Torino is an unexpected treat—the type of movie that rarely comes along. You find yourself riveted to the spot, surprised at how much empathy you feel for a character that you think you would despise in real life.

Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is a Korean War veteran. He’s racist as can be and isn’t ashamed of it. The only things he really seems to enjoy are beer, his dog, his tools, and his work—oh yeah, and his prized possession, a 1972 Gran Torino. His favorite facial pattern is a disapproving sneer. His favorite action seems to be spitting tobacco as he sneers. He despises young people and especially scantily dressed females. His sons are a disappointment to him.

The crisis point happens when the boy next door, Thao, tries to steal the aforementioned car. Thao is Hmong and considered too feminine by his family. He likes gardening better than hard labor. Walking down the street one day, he is harassed by some Latino gang members and bailed out by his Hmong cousins. This seeming favor becomes dangerous when they decide Thao should join their gang even if he has to be forced. The car theft is an initiation for him. Since he fails, he’s in the dog house, and they come to teach him a lesson. Just at as they’re about to drag him off, out comes Walt, now on his second night of interrupted sleep, Dirty Harry style to threaten the gangbangers with a shot gun. This is where the turning point in the movie happens.

Thao’s very large, very duty-bound family decides that Thao and the entire Hmong community are in Walt’s debt for the attempted crime and his heroic shotgun thing. Despite Walt’s protests they insist on giving him food and gifts as thank you tributes. Then Thao is given to Walt as his personal slave for a week. Walt decides to toughen Thao up.


Walt gets more interaction with his Hmong neighbors than he bargained for. And his lives become more intertwined with them than his own family. And though the gangbangers also continue to take an interest in Thao, Walt doesn’t like seeing his projects get interrupted.

This film is the perfect combination between humor and tragedy. I found myself laughing at most of Walt’s lines. This is a man we have all met at one point or another, but Eastwood’s got the charm to make it likable. His remarks are harmless, rather than caustic, and the family senses that, especially Sue, Thao’s sister, whose charm and feistiness win over Walt. I loved seeing Eastwood, now almost 80 years old, scaring the young gangbangers with his words and imaginary handgun gestures.

Clint Eastwood proves he’s still tough and in this visceral performance that will be remembered long after the golden statues are given out.

Comments

Dr. Deb said…
Ok. This is on my "to see" list!

Popular posts from this blog

Border (2018): A Dark Swedish Fairy Tale

Have you ever felt like you are alone? Like you exist and move around in a community of people that you are nothing like?

Imagine how Tina feels. She works as a highly competent border guard for the sole reason that her sense of smell is extrasensory. She can smell fear, shame, and any negative emotion on people as they cross through her security area, and she is never wrong about her suspicions. Her work career, however, might be the only thing she has going for her.

She lives on the outskirts of town with a boyfriend that owns a pack of dogs, and from all counts, they live together in a loveless domestic arrangement that is hard to imagine either of them conceiving. Things become a little clearer later as we learn that Tina owns the home and the boyfriend is enjoying the luxury of living rent free. Tina appears to have no family except for the man she calls father, who claims to have adopted her.

Tina is unattractive by human standards and is most often seen staring attentively and …

Yes, You Can: Take a Vacation by Yourself

This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics. Solo vacationing can be one of the most freeing and relaxing ways to travel. I'm sure you can think of at least one time when you took a trip only to have your getaway ruined by your companion.

I love a good vacation. There's nothing better than taking a few days off to decompress and get away from the stress of life. In my family, even when we didn't have a lot of money, it was considered important to have these little weekends. Sometimes we stayed with a family member. Sometimes, we would drive an hour away to the closest big city and spend a night in the Holiday Inn Holidome (remember those?). We thought that was big stuff. There was an indoor pool and a video game arcade. Sometimes Mom and Dad would go out for dinner, and we three girls would get to order pizza and watch TV ALONE.

It wasn't always easy sharing a hotel room with 5 people, 4 of them being female. We …

Roma (2018) Movie Review: A Window into the Life of a Working Class Woman

For every person who keeps their hands clean and smooth from doing heavy duty manual labor, there are people who work thanklessly in the background, making life comfortable for those few. This is the subject of Roma, a film set in Mexico City with original screenplay written in Spanish. Roma takes one of those hardworking people and brings her front and center.

Cleo is the housekeeper of a middle-class family in the 1970s. She cleans the house, cleans the dog poo off the house entrance, brings the family tea, and serves them at mealtime. Cleo comes across as diligent, hardworking, sweet, shy, non-demanding, and loving. The children seem to adore her. She is a constant in their lives, and they treat her as one would expect a person who demands or expects nothing in return. At times, she’s like wallpaper. Other times, they are affectionate with her and desire her attention.

There isn’t much plot to this movie. Cleo does have some romantic adventures and deals with an unexpected pregna…