Gran Torino

Director : Clint Eastwood

Writer : Nick Schenk

Starring : Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Christopher Carley and John Carroll Lynch.

The voice over in one of the short trailer’s for this film states “Eastwood is in total command.” For an acting career that begun in 1955 – that’s an incredible 54 years ago, not only would you expect this, but you would want nothing but the best – and that’s exactly what you get for your money from arguably the biggest movie star of all time.

Where his fellow living legends Robert De Niro and Al Pacino seem to be on a decline in their careers, Clint Eastwood – Director, Producer, Song Writer & Composer – for those of you unfamiliar – and Actor consistently does all of these at now a staggering 78 years of age, not only it seems with ease – but to the highest of cinematic standards.

Walt Kowalski (Eastwood) plays a hardened ex Korean War veteran who holds on to his prejudices for all to hear with his blatant, but often hilarious racial slurs. This is emphasized when a group of Hmong people – Chinese, although they like to distance themselves from this culture – move in next door. A scene has Walt invited over to the new neighbours home and with them all staring at him, he blurts out “What are all you fish heads looking at !”. This is just one of many, but in no way does this exceptional screenplay from Nick Schenk come across as racial but clever, emotional, funny and ultimately rewarding.

A relationship is built with the young boy Thao from the Hmong family after he tries to steal -albeit bullied from the Asian street gang to do so – Walt’s prized possession, his 1972 mint condition Gran Torino. What runs parallel to this and again this makes the script first rate, are the friendships that grow with Thao’s sister Sue (Her) and the young priest Father Janovich (Carley) – which in particular provide stand out scene’s – do not miss one word of these.

The young Bee Yang as Thao does not quite live up to the standards of acting required by a film of this calibre – along with one or two others, but this is something most would be prepared to over look when taking into account the film as a whole.

Clint the Director has never ventured too far away from the fairly conventional methods of camera work. Often watching his films, you feel perhaps these striking pieces of cinema could be improved with just a hint of the approaches used by directors like Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Lee or Brian DePalma.

Rumours have Clint saying this is the last time he will be in front of the camera. After watching this stunning performance in which he echoes his characters from the Dirty Harry films and continues to use emotion just like he did to even more dramatic effect in Million Dollar Baby (2004), I for one am begging for him to change his mind.

SUPERIOR SCENE : Walt takes Thao to his barbers place, which is also his friend Martin (Lynch, who is an extremely under rated actor) – not for a haircut but to show him how real men should talk to each other. Genius scripting, hilarious and very true to real life.

QUALITY QUOTE : “I blow a hole in your face and then I go in the house and sleep like a baby. You can count on that. We used to stack f**ks like you five feet high in Korea – use you for sandbags.” Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood).

RATING : 4.5 / 5 stars

© BRWC 2010.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

  • Anonymous 19th February 2009

    “Clint the Director has never ventured too far away from the fairly conventional methods of camera work.”

    By ‘conventional’ you presumably mean ‘classical.’ You know, the dominant style of Hollywood during the 30’s & 40’s? It is kind of amusing to imagine hip young things watching films by masters such as Howard Hawks or Raoul Walsh & declaring ‘Gee, if only Hawks had put an overhead shot in here, or a six minute steadicam shot there, his film would have been soooo much better!’

    “Often watching his films, you feel (perhaps) these striking pieces of cinema could be improved with a hint of the approaches used by directors like Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Lee or Brian DePalma.”

    LoL, do you? Well no doubt the youthful cinema school snob crowd feel that away. I doubt older viewers more interested in such unfashionable virtues as story & character do.

  • Sledge 19th February 2009

    Eastwood is a great director.
    Some of his techniques may seem a little dated to some of the kids out there.
    That’s not a bad thing …

  • Trevor Scott Smith 20th February 2009

    To Mr Anonymous – Who am i to tell Clint to change anything what so ever, all i was saying was “perhaps” – thats all, and if you read ALL of my review, my passion for Clint clearly comes out, let alone giving the film 4.5 out of 5 stars, (and i usually never give something that high!)which includes the Direction !!

  • Sledge 21st February 2009

    I feel Eastwood has a few more films left in him. Smaller parts maybe.

  • Trevor Scott Smith 22nd February 2009

    Damn straight Sledge ! Actors arnt meant to retire !! Even if he has to play a dying man confound to a bed like Jason Robards did in Magnolia – we’ll settle for it ! (sadly enough that was Robards last feature film !)

  • Sledge 22nd February 2009

    Bedridden roles would be great for an aging Eastwood….


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