Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gran Torino

Movie name: Gran Torino
Year of release: 2008
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Brian Haley, Geraldine Hughes, John Carroll Lynch, Geraldine Hughes, Brian Howe
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Clint Eastwood has offered two great films this past year. "Changeling" is already on my list of the best of the year and "Gran Torino" follows in the same line. The film follows what at first sight looks like the walking grouchy cliche that is Walt Kowalski. His wife has just passed away, he can't get along with his sons or grandchildren. To top it all off, his new neighbors are an Asian family that seems to disrupt his quiet and tranquility. Thao the young man from the house is harassed by a gang and through an initiation has to steal Walt's vintage car, a Gran Torino. When he's unable to do so, his family presents his excuses, making Thao repay what his shameful behavior brought on. An unlikely friendship is forged between this family and this old school man that brings a smile and a sense of peace to his life. However the menace of urban gangs looms by. As is usual with his style, Clint Eastwood is direct in his approach to direction and hits all the spots as far as the screenplay his concerned. This is a character tailor made for him, an aging Dirty Harry trying to find some peace in his old age. He knows his mistakes, his shortcomings, and the persistence and niceties of this Asian family, particularly of those two kids, touch his heart. The film is anchored in it's apparent simplicity, but the message comes across loud and clear. Tradition, values and education. It's a film that shows again why Clint Eastwood manages to create great films in whatever he touches.