Gran Torino is definitely a film, that I surprisingly enjoyed, you wouldn’t think it from the IMDb write up that doesn’t really do it much favours in my opinion. Yet the ratings are high and after watching I can see why and totally agree with it’s score. Director and Actor, Clint Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, an aging man who has just lost his wife and must now live alone in a Michigan neighbourhood slowly filling with Hmong immigrants. As a veteran of the Korean War, Walt is evidently unimpressed by the ‘invasion’, especially when young neighbour Thao (Bee Vang) attempts to steal his prized Gran Torino. You have to expect a high amount of racist comments and slurs, as Walt does not hold back. He does however see right and wrong, and knows something’s up when young Thao is harassed by members of a local gang.
Clint Eastwood plays a fantastic role, possibly one that suited him all too well. An embittered old man who has lost his wife, he has to deal with the aftermath. His two sons and their families’ are now sniffing around for some inheritance and his grandchildren are laying claims to his belongings already. To top it off for Walt, the local reverend (Christopher Carley) is watching over him, as by request of his wife. He is truly irritated with the world, and just wants to sit on his porch and drink his beers in peace. Although highly offensive, I liked the character who was quite funny with how blunt he could be. It isn’t in many films where Clint Eastwood will say to a priest “I think you’re an overeducated 27-year-old virgin who likes to hold the hands of superstitious old ladies and promise them everlasting life”, too funny. It was a fantastic example of a character profile, and throughout the film we see development as Walt finds enjoyment in the community that has formed around him.
Unfortunately, the strengths in acting didn’t stretch across the whole board of cast, some seemed to struggle next to Eastwood, and couldn’t match him. Some of the lesser actors were a bit off in some scenes, but they seemed new, and I suppose some actors have to start somewhere. For the viewers we were just lucky to have Eastwood there to raise the bar a bit. In a directing role, it was filmed very well and simply, there were no tricks or complicated shots that would ruin the film. It was truly real and gritty which made me love it even more.
A truly impressive film, that makes you both feel and laugh. Despite the lewd comments, it is truly heartwarming and thought-provoking. It was nice to see bridges being built between two different communities, and a grumpy old, man making something of himself whilst leaving his own legacy for others. A fantastic film, comes highly recommended.