We try to watch most of Clint Eastwood’s movies, although sometimes it takes us a while to get around to them. For instance, we just watched GRAN TORINO. I like Eastwood’s films because most of them have actual characters and not just an abundance of special effects. GRAN TORINO certainly falls into that category.
I’m sure most of you have seen this one by now. For those of you who haven’t, Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a widowed, retired auto worker in Detroit who stubbornly stays in his old neighborhood despite the fact that all his neighbors are now Hmong immigrants. Walt is a tough, profane, hard-to-like old codger who uses a lot of racist language, but over the course of the movie, if we judge by his actions, we learn that he’s not a racist at all. He just doesn’t like or respect anybody who hasn’t earned it. He befriends the young man next door, who’s in trouble with the local Hmong gang, and you just know that’s going to lead to a confrontation sooner or later.
For a movie with a ton of bad language and more than a little violence, there are an awful lot of funny, touching moments in GRAN TORINO as well. Eastwood is wonderful as usual as Walt, although I’m a little surprised critics haven’t started leveling the same sort of charges against him that they did against John Wayne: “He’s just Clint Eastwood playing Clint Eastwood.” Maybe so, but does anybody do it better? (Anyway, I don’t think that’s true of either Eastwood or Wayne.) The young Hmong actors who lead the supporting cast are fine, too.
Overall, this is an excellent film, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it.