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Each week, PS News’s film critic Victor Rebikoff will highlight the latest offerings from the silver screen and share his expert commentary for our information and guidance.
Director: Clint Eastwood, Warner Bros, Rated M, 116 Minutes
The legendary Clint Eastwood has again demonstrated his academy award winning techniques as an actor, director, and producer in his latest film - the title of which refers to a 1972 Ford Gran Torino.
It is around this vintage car that the major conflict revolves, with Eastwood’s character, Walt Kowalski - an old and disgruntled Korean War Vet, becoming involved with his Asian neighbours when he catches their teenage son Thao (Bee Vang) trying to steal his beloved car.
Gran Torino also provides a realistic insight into the cultural relationships that have developed in American Society - between those who are American born and those that are of Asian and/or African American backgrounds.
Eastwood’s character is essentially that of a proud American (to the point that he has an American flag flying from his front porch) who has just lost his wife and is unhappy with everyone around him.
This includes the young priest and his family (who are only interested in placing Walt into a retirement home) as well as the neighbours next door to whom he initially confronts with racist taunts.
His behaviour soon changes following his intervention with Thao - first when he saves him from a neighbourhood Asian gang, and again when he provides protection to Thao and his sister, Sue (Ahney Her).
Despite the reasonable performances of Thao and Sue, the major attraction and highlight of this film is Eastwood’s powerful direction and performance as Walt Kowalski.
Eastwood’s portrayal as an aged ‘Dirty Harry’, the language used towards the Asian gang members (such as “Get off my lawn” sounding as menacing as “Make my day”) and his constant use of a hand gun and rifle make this film distinct.
Overall, Gran Torino is the compelling story (mixed with drama and touches of Eastwood-style humour) of a disillusioned man nearing the end of his life, who is transformed into accepting the changed cultural reality of his neighbourhood, and finds real acceptance and friendship from the people he least expected.
The surprise ending is an example of Eastwood’s ultimate compassion and understanding of human relationships.
At the age of 78, as Clint Eastwood nears the end of his iconic movie career, this emotive and entertaining film will still have a special appeal to the many millions of fans.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps