Gran Torino – Understated With A Perfect Ending

Gran Torino – Understated With A Perfect Ending

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  1. Clint Eastwood is a Hollywood icon.  He has been acting since the 1950s and directing since the 1970s.  One film in which he does both is 2008’s drama Gran Torino.  Although the film is crtically acclaimed, winning 18 awards from various sources, it was not even nominated for an Oscar.  It did, however, win a Golden Globe in 2009 for its main song titled "Gran Torino" which features a vocal performance from Eastwood himself.

    What is it about?

    The film follows emotionally detached Korean War vet, Walt Kowalski, as he deals with his wife’s death and the influx of Korean immigrants into his neighborhood.  His family is scared of him.  He doesn’t know how to deal with people.  And he is rather racist, especially toward Koreans.  The family that moves in next to him, though, are Koreans. 

    Walt doesn’t initially connect with his neighbors until he catches the young man of the house, Thao, trying to steal his prized possesion:  a beautiful, dark green Gran Torino.  This first encounter between Thao and Walt is obviously a negative one, but Walt ends up taking the boy under his wing and teaching him how to be a man.  Walt also serves to protect Thao from a local gang that continuously pressures Thao to join.

    Walt eventually connects to the rest of the family, allowing him to overcome his racism and pent up hate.  Ultimately, Walt becomes a Christ-figure and the savior that Thao’s family needs.

    Is it good?

    Clint Eastwood, characteristically, shows very little emotion in the roles he plays.  That makes the role of Walt perfect for him.  His main emotion is anger, which he does really well.  The rest of the cast, though, do not give you the strong acting performances you might hope for.  There are moments of strong acting from them but, overall, it’s mediocre. 

    What the film lacks in acting, though, it makes up for in emotion and the surprising addition of some very funny moments.  The characters are also very well develped.  Their personalities play off each other well, especially Walt and Father Janovich (Christopher Carley).  The scenes shared by these two are especially good and give you the majority of the emotional meat in the film.

    The best part of the film is the climactic showdown between Walt and the local gang.  It is equal parts beautiful and sad, but it is the most cathartic ending you will see in a long time.  It is perfect.

    Nolan’s Grade:  A

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