I came upon the movie 'Gran Torino' by chance and decided to watch it just because it was directed by Clint Eastwood aka 'Dirty Harry'. I had recently watched 'Changeling' another movie directed by him and had been really impressed with it.
The movie starts of with Grumpy old Clint ( Walt Kowalski) at his wife's funeral. It seems he is angry with the world. I was a bit reluctant to go on but with the want of nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon I decided to continue. The film starts at a very slow pace and people who lack patience will start fidgeting to see a codgy old man slurring racially tinged epithets and in general angry with the himself and the world.
First 30 mins and I was hooked. My better half who can master the art of 'snoring away to glory' in superb movies like 'Lord of the Rings was glued to the screen as well.
The film is set in Detroit and 'Walt' a retired automotive worker lives in a immigrant dominated neighbourhood. His neighbours are a 'Hmong ' family with Thao and Sue as brother and sister living with their mother and Grandmother. Walt looks down upon his neighbours since they are asians but eventually befriends them and takes Thao under his wing to make a Man out of him.
The film also depicts the changing face of America, with gang wars and the innocent people caught in it. The film has some funny moments even though they are peppered with Racist comments, it does not come out as hateful.
The slow change in Walt's attitude towards his neighbours...and receiving the same love and respect from them is what makes the movie great. Throughout his life 'Walt' could not become close to his sons and rejected religion and carried the burdens of the Korean War and the people he killed there. The sudden outpouring of kindness from his neighbours because he defended them from Hmong and Hispanic Gangs evokes a sudden change in his attitude and he finally confesses to a 'Padre,' who keeps popping in the film numerous times about his pain and that he was not able to be close to his sons.
The Car 'Gran Torino' is a symbol of his memories which 'Walt' wants to hold on to and finds it difficult to accept change. Clint Eastwood comes back as a action hero and looks credible even at the age of 78 and his toughness is more verbal than physical and makes it pretty realistic.
The high point of the movie is the end... which I dont want to spoil for people who haven't watched it yet. Also do wait and listen to the song 'Gran Torino' which is on when the credits roll in (You can hear it here)....It is one of the most hauntingly melodius song I've heard in a long time. It is written and sung by Clint.
I am disappointed that the movie has not garnered even one Oscar Nomination. I would recommend watching this movie and am sure it will change your perspective on a lot of things in Life.
Hats off Clint Eastwood for making such a wonderful movie and hope that you make some more like these.
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