Sunday, June 14, 2009

Grand Torino: Grade A

Grand Torino (2008)
Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her; Director Clint Eastwood.

Eastwood is Walt, a crusty old Korean War veteran who lives alone in a run down section of Detroit that has been taken over by immigrant families including the extended southeast Asian Hmong family next door. He talks to himself and his dog so we can understand that he is still fighting the war, angry, alone, bitter, and an unrepentant racist. By chance, he saves the young neighbor boy from a group of Hmong gangbangers, so he becomes a neighborhood hero. He tries to reject that role, but gradually and grudgingly takes a liking to the young boy and his sister. The youngsters all speak English while the parents and old people do not, which gives ground for a good deal of humor. Walt voices some outrageous racist comments, which the Hmong youth accept with equanimity since he is obviously just an old fart who doesn’t know any better. That part is not exactly realistic, but it does show the audience the racism that is just under the surface in real life so it serves a social function. Walt teaches the young man some skills, and he gets a job, but the gang just won’t leave him or Walt alone. Walt realizes that the younger generation has no chance at all of making a decent life while the gang is around. His dramatic resolution to the problem invokes a complex of Dirty Harry and Catholic symbology in a predictable but effective ending.

The movie is a deft combination of serious drama, sociology, humor, history, tender feelings and “message.” For example, Walt gives the “Clint Eastwood Look” of intimidation several times and waves large guns while staring down bad guys, but never fires a weapon in anger. The only people who do are handcuffed and sent to prison. Yet the spirit of Dirty Harry is not lost. “You ever notice how there are some guys you just shouldn’t fuck with? Well I am that guy.” There are many layers and allusions to appreciate in this movie. I’d have to say it is as good, or better than Forbidden. Clint is nearly 80 now and we probably won’t see him on screen much more. If so, he goes out on a high note.

1 comment:

  1. I was born in Det. 50 some yrs ago. Im so glad that one of Eastwoods last movies was made there. It was a great classic, like so many he made. Thanks for the memmories Clint Eastwood. You are my favorite Actor ever. Helen