#242 / 365 – ‘Gran Torino’ – 116 mins
IMDb Challenge #141 / 250 – Ranked #95 – DVD Collection
Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is a grumpy, tough-minded, unhappy an old man, who can’t get along with either his kids or his neighbors, a Korean War veteran whose prize possession is a 1972 Gran Torino he keeps in mint condition. When his neighbor Thao (Bee Vang), a young Hmong teenager under pressure from his gang member cousin, tries to steal his Gran Torino, Kowalski sets out to reform the youth. Drawn against his will into the life of Thao’s family, Kowalski is soon taking steps to protect them from the gangs that infest their neighborhood.
You’ve gotta hand it to good old Clint Eastwood. He makes some simply fantastic movies and in 2008 he directed and produced two very fine pieces of work, this and ‘Changeling’ which both for me happily take pride of place alongside his earlier masterpieces of ‘Unforgiven’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby’.
The film centres itself around the issues of religion, life, death, racism and family and like the majority of Eastwood’s films, Gran Torino is a solid a touching drama throughout, but it is also layered with humor and lighter moments – the colourful exchanges between Walt’s Barber and verbal sparring partner.
Bee Vang and Ahney Her are brilliant as brother and sister next door, who ultimately hold the key to Walt’s redemption. Clint Eastwood plays the grumpy old man perfectly, sneering and snorting like his Dirty Harry character, and if as reported Gran Torino is Eastwood’s acting swansong – then this a fitting note for him to bow out on.