Wednesday, June 23, 2010

See Gran Torino, intones Rob

Tough guy with a heart of gold. You could sum up Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino with a cliché, but don’t. First of all, Clint is good. He does a great job as a foul-mouthed, racist, mean, nasty, ill-mannered, violent old codger with the supreme misfortune of living in a changing neighborhood. So you’ve got the codger, the Hmong neighbors and gangs roaming the streets. All you need is a little Clint Eastwood action to ignite the combustible materials. The materials do ignite and we do see some Dirty Harry machismo, but wait there’s more! The heart of the story is the evolving relationship between Eastwood and the Hmong sister and brother next door. Yes, it’s Hollywood, but it is Clint Eastwood Hollywood and the meanness and nastiness is so over-the –top, that you won’t mind laughing as you wince.

1 comment:

  1. >>Yes, it’s Hollywood,

    Well not really. It's far more indie film than Hollywood (shot for under $20 million in approx 35 days using a cast of non-professional Hmong actors). Also though Eastwood plays a misanthrope the key theme here is redemption & not - as so many lazy reviewers have tagged it - racism.

    One of the many believable touches is the way Eastwood's character doesn't cease insulting the family next door even as he grows closer to them. The Hmong Grandmother is great as well. Neither can speak the others language yet the two of them understand each other perfectly.

    There's so much going on here - the passing of traditional American values from one generation to another, the cruel way the elderly are treated by their children, the contrast between the Hmongs with their spiritual, feminine side that leaves them hopelessly sidelined in America & Walt's no-nonsense practical skills that are an absolute must if you're going to pull yourself up in life, the way Eastwood's own screen persona evolves yet again with an ending that inverts our expectations & the delightfully blunt manner in which racial & cultural differences are acknowledged & accepted through mutual insults instead of treading around on PC eggshells. All this plus characters you find yourself caring about so deeply. How on earth does Eastwood do it & make it all look so easy?

    I think Gran Torino is a masterpiece & yet again Eastwood has made the best American movie of its year.