Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gran Torino. A-

Clint Eastwood certainly knows how to surprise people with his movies. Like 'Million Dollar Baby,' this movie was shot in relatively short amount of time and just came out of no where. Eastwood, in his first role since 'Baby' in 2004, is in total command as Walt, a war veteran who has just lost his wife. He cares about two things: His privacy and his mint condition 1972 Ford Gran Torino. He is extremely disgruntled when he discovers that his new neighbors, and much of his neighborhood, are Hmong. An obvious racist, Walt throws every insulting, obscene remark at them as he can. Yes, the language here is very gratuitous, but without it, for once I say, would the movie be as complete as it is? When Thao (Bee Vang), one of his neighbors, attempts to steal his Gran Torino as part of a gang initiation, Walt catches him in the act. As payment, Thao, a young, smart, and very uncertain boy, offers to do jobs for Walt. Walt accepts, and, as expected, begins to soften up around his new neighbors. Another central character is Father Janovich, (Christopher Carley) a young priest who constantly tries to preach to Walt and get him to go to confession. Obviously Clint Eastwood is the main reason to go see the movie. He gives a dynamite performance, both funny and dramatic, with many traces of Dirty Harry and The man with no name. But as a whole this is a deeply moving and touching film that gives us characters that we really care about. Even though Walt is as mean as can be, we still, thanks to Eastwood, like him a lot. There is plenty of humor to go along with the drama. I actually laughed more in this than I do with most comedies. The effect 'Gran Torino' had on me was incredible. I feel a sense of utter satisfaction every time I think about it. The only problem was that the young Hmong actors, especially Thao, are inexperienced and struggle through much of the movie. But besides that I loved 'Gran Torino.' I loved its characters, its themes, its humor, and also Walt's dog, who, I will say, is happy at the end.

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