Monday, January 19, 2009

Gran Torino Movie Review

The movie trailer doesn't come close to doing this film justice.  Part of the reason is that Clint Eastwood's character (Walter Kowalski) spews just about every racial epithet and stereotype known to humankind, but the trailer is made suitable for all audiences.

Walter is as bitter, cantankerous and crusty a man as you are likely to find.  His wife has passed away and his children & grandchildren are clueless.  They epitomize the self-centered American with too much flouride in their water. 

Eastwood plays the bitter old man as best he can without turning him into a complete monster. Think Archie Bunker on steroids.  There was some laughter in the audience with each hate filled and political incorrect rant,  albeit a bit uncomfortable.   

Despite Eastwood's iconic image on the screen, the supporting cast is largely unknown, so the film has an "independent" feel to it.   Be prepared for a couple of lump in the throat moments, because for all of Eastwood's bad ass attitude, you can't help but feel for the guy. 

A Korean War vet, he lived and played by the set of rules he was given, but he never got, or accepted that the rules of the game have changed from one generation to the next.   His confessed sins are so shocking in their simplicity that it's no wonder he possesses disdain for the excesses and lack of discipline demonstrated by each successive generation.

With the immigration debate raging in America today, it's interesting that the screenwriter and director (Eastwood) chose to center the story around the Hmong community.  Ironically, his immigrant neighbors demonstrate the "American" values Walt longs for while his own family turns his stomach.  This film is a flagrant study on the absurdities of our stereotypes on just about everything and everyone.   It isn't perfect or without its issues, but overall, Gran Torino aims and hits its target pretty darn well.

Lost in America Recommends with    * * * * *

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