Gran Torino Reviews
Clint Eastwood comes out of the gates swinging in playing racist Walt Kowalski. I thought it was a daring role seeing as, even though the character had a strong prejudices, you were still supposed to somehow like and respect him. Clint walks that line finely and pulls the role off with that smooth ease I've seen in a number of his previous roles.
Special love to a strong supporting role from Chee Thao who plays the angry Grandma of the Hmong family. She hates Clint as much as he hates her and their chemistry makes for some hilarious scenes. She captures the role perfectly.
Gran Torino features a rich array of characters with meaning and depth. Walt is a man set in his ways after the war hardened him, but you find his walls slowly tearing down as the movie progresses. He reluctantly lets in the people that he wouldn't normally and finds himself becoming closer to them than his own family. While his heart may have changed, I appreciated the fact that his mouth didn't. Walt, with his brutal honesty, always spoke what was on his mind at all times which was funny and refreshing at the same time.
Thao (Bee Vang) has his own internal struggle as he deals with getting his education while trying to take care of his family and still fit in with the men in his family. He wants to be different than his thug cousins but he's too much of a softy to stand up for himself. Thao and Walt end up on a collision course towards each other surrounded by a number of characters that have their own stories worth paying attention to.
A lot of scenes stuck out in my head when considering Gran Torino. From family dinners to one-off scenes with Walt and Thao, the film provides believable insight into Walt becoming closer to his "enemies" than his own family. The dinners were shot in a claustrophobic type of way. Thao's house was littered with people and you find a surrounded Walt trying to navigate his way through while steering clear of being social. The film as a whole was shot in a dark style indicative of looming danger. It's unnerving in a way, but effective at the same time.
The hard dramatic shift in the film is like a gut punch, both jarring and unexpected. I appreciate when a film can change tones and still be effective. I also appreciate when films show racism from both sides of the fence. There's a refreshing sense of realism you get with Gran Torino that may be sacrificed in other films for the sake of getting a point across. In Torino, no one is innocent. No one is exempt.
I can't even count the number of one-liners that Walt provides throughout the span of the movie. My personal favorite: "Good day, puss cake." I have often considered how hilarious it would be to randomly say that to someone. There's still time...
Definitely could have been improvement in the pacing department. The beginning starts off extremely slow before moving at a shaky pace. It finally levels out at about the half hour mark, but the damage had already been done for me at this point.
Solid storyline from beginning to end that is both intriguing and unique. We are provided with an insight into a different culture in an endearing way that makes you smile.
Gran Torino is an original film that succeeds with gritty realism and strong characters. A few tweaks, particularly a stronger ending, would have put the movie into a higher tier for me. Still a solid watch.
Back when this film came out (which wasn't all that long ago) people weren't obsessed with calling everything racist, and this movie did a great job of taking place in a part of town similar to many other towns in America. Gran Torino actually used real Hmong actors, which I thought was a great idea, despite using unknown actors whose acting chops weren't exactly great. But it helped add to the realism of the film.
Although the story is predictable, the supporting cast can be a little robotic, and Eastwood is a bit over the top at times, this story turns a rough and calloused exterior , and turned it into a very heartfelt story, much like Eastwood's character.
If this movie offended you, or you were mad that "there were no white gangs", you either don't live in America, or you have never been to Detroit. The director obviously wanted this movie to have a dialogue about the actual demographics of that old industrial area of Detroit. and they did so in a very realistic way.
I think Gran Torino makes humor out of ugliness at times, and turns a tragic story into a story of acceptance, and personal growth. I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone who gets offended by their own shadow, but for the normal people who enjoy cinema, it is a great outing for Eastwood, and loved that it draws attention to the American-Hmong people, cause many Americans that watch this film wont even know who the Hmong people are.
Great Film. 7.5/10
the moral lesson is forgiveness