Sunday, 7 March 2010

Film Review: GRAN TORINO (2008)

Director: Clint Eastwood
Running time: 116 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 15

UK Release Date: 27th February 2009

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 7th March 2010.


This is reported to be Clint Eastwood’s last starring role. If this is true then he has most definitely left us on a high. He plays the part of Korean War veteran, Walt Kowalski quite flawlessly; in fact I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role. Walt lives in Highland Park, Michigan, a neighbourhood that is dominated by immigrants, particularly the Hmong (pronounced ‘mong’).

Having lost his wife and being distanced from his two sons, Walt lives alone with his Labrador retriever Daisy. He is very patriotic and finds it hard to come to terms with all the immigrants living around him. The boy who lives next door, Thao, is being pestered by his cousin, Spider to join his Hmong gang after they saved him from some Hispanics. Thao reluctantly agrees and his initiation is to steal Walt’s prized car, his 1972 Gran Torino. He is discovered during the attempt, but gets away. A few days later the gang return and try to take Thao by force, but his sister, Sue tries to stop them and a fight breaks out. The fight spills onto Walt’s property and he’s suddenly there pointing a rifle at one of the gang members. They leave, but warn Walt to watch his back. Thao’s family are traditional and they take him round to Walts house and tell him that Thao must work for him to make amends. Walt reluctantly takes him on and they eventually become friends as he gets Thao to mend the other houses in the street. You know that the gang are not far off, and sure enough they appear again and this time it’s much more serious. It’s now up to Walt to put things right. I won’t say any more, I think that’s enough spoilers for one day.

A brilliantly measured performance from Clint Eastwood, he gave us the full range of his craft in this film. Everything from the brooding loner from the spaghetti westerns to the comic cowboy of Bronco Billy. So hats off to Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski for a most memorable performance. Also strong performances from Christopher Carley as Father Janovich, Bee Vang as Thao Vang Lor and Ahney Her as Sue Lor.

A very well made film, again in the measured style that we’ve come to expect from Clint Eastwood (as director). A well thought out plot that kept me interested throughout and some really good performances. Over all, a very entertaining film telling a heart-warming story. Probably one of the best films I’ll see this year and one I can highly recommend!

My score: 8.8/10

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