Eastwood Only Gets Better

October 21, 2010
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Gran Torino is a film which is able to capture its audience strictly through the elements of story, something which is extremely rare in the world of cinema nowadays. A story of pain, work, and redemption something that is so wondrous to watch unfold on the big screen. Clint Eastwood puts on a show like you have never seen before, both as the Director and lead actor, as this Shakespearean like drama manifests itself in a run-down neighborhood in Detroit.

Walt Kawolski, played by Clint Eastwood, is a cold and grumpy Korean War veteran and widower at the beginning of this tale whose life just seems like a giant disappointment at least to himself. He even scoffs at his own family seeing them as just another disappointment in his already bleak life. Now that his wife has past all the old man wants to do is be alone with his dog, Daisy, and sip his beer on his porch in peace and taking care of his prized possession, his Gran Torino, something the nearby Hmong gangs just won’t let happen. His neighbors are a Hmong family with a son, Thao, who needs to learn his place as the man of the house only living with his sister, Sue, and mother. Sadly Thao couldn’t be in a worse situation seeing as he lacks self-confidence and his cousin is the leader of the Hmong gang and is pushing him into a world he wants no part of. As these troubles quite literally spill over onto Walt’s lawn he decides to intervene, after some pleading from Sue and their mother, to help the boy in becoming a man and leading a respectable and hopefully a successful life.

One major problem that this film encounters comes directly from the Hmong as well and I am not talking about the gang’s violence. The acting from most of all the supporting cast leads me to wonder if they were reading their lines directly from cue cards; it isn’t hard at all to tell that these people have not been in many large Hollywood movies, if they have been in any at all. Besides being a poor group of actors they are generally inconsistent both giving you a cardboard cut-out of a scene and next they will be flailing about in some of the most over-dramatic over acting I have seen in a movie. Luckily there are a couple of actors which give you a very strong performance which just bring up the entire ensemble as a whole. And no surprise here one of those actors is the great Clint Eastwood giving us a very emotional performance of a man who has seen terrible things in his life, something you are able to hear in every line he gives us. Another actor who I felt did a stand up job was Christopher Carley, who played the persistent priest, Father Janovich, who wouldn’t give up in trying to guide Walt after the passing of his wife. The conversations between Carley and Eastwood are very powerful truly showing how powerful and beautiful the theme of redemption is in this film. These two actors shine and bring up all the others just by being around them in. They are both very capable of saving the scene which could be inherently damaged due to others lackluster performance and do so throughout the film, making the other actors a non-issue.

Besides a very wide array of performances in the movie it is also visual masterpiece in truly immerging you directly into this small worn-down Detroit neighborhood. For someone who grew up in the straight-edge and clean suburbs of Illinois I have never been introduced to such a place that is filled with such gang dominance. When the movie starts you are thrown into the world and you will not want to look away from the screen because that world really becomes your own. The overall cinematography is beautifully done by keeping the world very simplistic which is all that our story needs. The very same can be said for the music which takes a soft and deep approach just gently touching us in an otherwise rough world. The music truly finds its way to your heart whether you know it or not because it all just goes along with the rest of the film in something very beautiful. This is a skill which Clint Eastwood seemed to very much perfect in the making of this film.



Clint Eastwood has been amazingly praised for the creation of Gran Torino since its release in 2008, and he truly deserves every single bit of it. Clint Eastwood truly puts this whole movie on his back and runs with it for without his acting and directing this would have been so much less and most likely completely forgettable. There is no other actor whom I could imagine do what Eastwood did with the part of Walt Kawolski. Everything he says throughout the film is able to touch us reminding us of the wise old man who has seen and done everything you could imagine, but still somebody who is looking for something like we all are. The reason Clint Eastwood is able to play that part so well is because he himself is that person, the wise old man of Hollywood. I don’t know what he is looking for but obviously that journey has led him on an amazing career where he just keeps getting better and better creating a wonderful flowing and meaningful movie here in Gran Torino.
The film plays out like a large wave on the ocean which you watch slowly grow larger and larger until it gracefully all comes down in one spectacular motion. Every aspect of this film, good and bad, is able to blend into this masterpiece which you will want to watch over and over again. This film is capable of touching a wide variety of people although I must say it isn’t for the young or the tender hearted. The atmosphere and morale of this movie is able to captivate everyone who watches it and even mean something different to each and every one of them. The film will keep your eyes glued to the screen as you are taken on an emotional rollercoaster that will have you in the end evaluating your own life making this fictional character Walt Kawolski not only a great anti-hero but in the end a role model we can all really look up to just as Thao did in this film. It is one of the roughest and toughest movies which carry a real heart of gold just like Clint Eastwood himself. Everyone at some point of their life should experience this film.





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