Tightly scripted, a few stereotyped characters and a menacingly grizzly fraught Clint Eastwood character. Here the Gran Torino world exists. Have we ever seen Eastwood smile on screen in his last few outings? He’s pissed off at the world he lives in and in this character study film, we want to know why. Eastwood’s Walt Kowalski wife has recently passed away and the people surrounding him want to help but are more or less in the way of Walt’s life and he’d much rather independence and to be left alone.
His two adult sons both have families and watching scenes unravel you see the disingenuous rapport to each other. Walt has a crooked tongue and has an ever watchful eye on what is going on around him. This includes whatever is happening to his 1972 Gran Torino in his garage. His grandchildren want the car along with his Korean war guns and medals. Eastwood’s cruel eyes can kill his grandchildren in a second but as long as there’s a beer in his hand while he sits on the front deck he’s content.
Eastwood as director is always conservative with his camera shots and allows story and drama to flow naturally from the scene. Gran Torino is no different so when the film delves into Kowalski having to come to terms with a huge Korean family moving in as neighbours and even worse the Korean boy that tries to steal the Gran Torino, tension arises. The film is mouthy and you may argue completely racist yet it received high praise from the critics.
As the story unfolds to why the Korean boy Thao needed to steal the car, Walt’s thinking is challenged regardless of the pestering Catholic Priest that shows up on the scene on his wife’s wishes. Themes of father-son relationships are explored as well s forgiveness of self in the film. At times it’s not an easy watch for its violence or constant racial slurs but if you commit to the watch then the film is stirring in the end. The film is not predictable but understands the structure of the story it wants to present which makes it a success. It proved successful at the box office and became the second highest grossing film in Eastwood’s filmography.