Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Reviews by Julian: Gran Torino

My boy Julian with another review*:

I saw so many commercials praising this film, and I could not comprehend how it could be that good. I have nothing at all against Clint Eastwood or his style of direction, but it didn't make sense to me. My skepticism led me to watch Gran Torino, and I figured it out-tight lipped, over the top racism is hilarious. To my audience, I apologize, please forgive my sick sense of humor and bare with me for the duration of this review.

Recently widowed veteran Walt Kowalksi(Eastwood) is a bitter, abrasivie, racist old fart. He lives alone with his dog; ignoring his sons, grandchildren and the outside world when he isn't judging it. The Detroit neighborhood he lives in has changed, in terms of ethnic diversity and quality as it is poisoned by gangs. His relationship with his Asian neighbors is not at all friendly, as he lets the slurs "chink" and "gooks" fly freely. This man is no Mr. Rodgers. The relationship goes even further south when the "can't get right" son Thao(Bee Vang) attempts to steal Kowalksi's prized 1972 Gran Torino as part of a gang initiation. When a fight erupts, Walt turns into a geriatric Dirty Harry, sending the thugs away....somehow. As a result, Walt becomes the neighborhood hero, a title he has no interest in. Frequent visits from Thao's clever old sister Sue(Ahney Her), and Thao becoming Walt's reluctant apprentice result in a unique relationship being formed. Eventually, Walt begins to realize he likes these "chinks" and "gooks" better than his own family.

There's nothing compelling, or groundbreaking in the way Gran Torino unfolds. Fortunately, Eastwood is aware of this, so the generation/racial gap formula works. Through Walt, Thao learns how to assert himself; while Thao and Sue prove Walt to be extremely guarded as opposed to racist. However, the film is so overt in its message that it prevents the audience-or myself, at least-from taking it seriously. In addition, Walt's transformation takes place far too quickly and without sufficient motivation.

As Walt, Clint Eastwood turns in a hilariously ironic performance. He's so subtle, but at the same time so ridiculously over the top. I respect Eastwood as an actor, but chameleon he is not, and his portrayal of Walt is nothing more than an aged interpretation of Dirty Harry Callahan. At times, he takes his Shotgun Scrooge act so far that he literally growls at anyone who annoys him. Bee Vang makes Thao's transformation far more believable than Walt's, yet the brightest performance in the film comes from Ahney Her as Sue. She brings energy and charisma to the role; able to absorb Walt's racist remarks and playfully throw them back in his face.

Gran Torino is a decent film, but it is easier to digest if the viewer doesn't take the film as seriously as Clint Eastwood seems to. There are plenty of things more amusing than watching Clint Eastwood play a grumpy old man with a rifle, but it's still pretty damn funny.

Rating: 3/4 Stars

*taken from his facebook

1 comment:

  1. You might want to re-post this...I had to make some edits-The Author