Gran Torino dir. by

12 January 2009

Script: , ,
Cast: , , ,
Rated :

This is an odd film. Hard to write about because there are so many different ways to take it. On the one hand it is about a racist old man who despite himself becomes involved in the lives of a Hmong family. It is about the generation gap between a working class father and his middle class children and grandchildren. It is about white flight. It could be about gangs and how hard it is to not get caught up in them. It could be about how violence begets violence. Or how life never goes smooth. Or maybe that the past never really goes away.

Okay, plotwise we have Eatwood’s character who has just buried his wife. He is that last white man in his neighbourhood, all the others having moved out. His children don’t understand him, hisd grandkids are spoiled rotten and only interested in what they can get from him. But one day Eastwood becomes involved in his neighbours’ lives. He interferes in a gang punishment and so becomes a sort of mentor to Thao and a sort of friend to the family.

He is still a racist though. But is it okay if he is racist to everyone? Basically Clint plays the Dirty Harry character. Only older. He aint racist, he just hates everyone. So the Hmongs are gooks and zipperheads, the Italians are wops, he himself is a dumb polack and so we can relax and enjoy the amount of invention in his characters insults.

Well, that is how it works while watching the film. But afterwards, when you think about it, life isn’t that simple. Yes he hates everyone, but racism isn’t simply hating a person. It is pre-judging an entire race. And if the Hmongs had been black and Eastwood had been using other derogatory comments would it have been as entertaining and amusing?

Or maybe that’s the point. People like Walt Kowalski certainly exist. And a hell of a lot worse. I guess by hating everyone you really do treat everyone the same.

But then there is the issue of Sue. Show Spoiler ▼

Of course I’m not sure if that is criticise the film. After all that viewpoint wouldn’t be that uncommon. So is the film playing with that cliché as it is with the whole “racist old man” trope? I don’t think so. Unfortunately I don’t think so.

I enjoyed this while watching it. And it made me think. So all good. Maybe… I dunno.

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4 Responses

  1. Carl V. says:

    Every time I see a commercial I feel almost compelled to see this. I think it is that Dirty Harry persona that you mentioned. Not sure I'll manage it in the theater though. Might have to wait for DVD for this one. I haven't seen a movie in the theater since Quantum Solace, which is odd for me as I generally am a much more avid theater-goer. Partially the economy, but partially because I am just too busy and too tired.

  2. Fence says:

    It works just fine on the small screen Carl, so don't feel you are missing out at all if you do wait for the dvd.

    I can't believe you haven't been to the cinema since Bond though! Although I guess I am spoiled in that it is only 2 mins from where I live :)

  3. red says:

    I really enjoyed this film- one of the best I saw in 2008. True, it did make me think too…

  4. Fence says:

    Wouldn't have been half as good without Clint though