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.