Clint Eastwood directed his first movie back in 1971 and just ten years later he was both directing, writing and starring in Firefox. As a man with a lot of experience, vision and practical knowledge, he also directed a lot of great movies without showing that famous face (Mystic River, Changeling). Gran Torino is a movie about a Korean war veteran, however, as always, Clint manages to transcend that narrative by not dwelling on the actual situation but using it to actually manifest what it means to be an old guy who’s also a Korean war veteran. It’s basically a double loop that gives you that nice juicy “this is one of those brainy, retrospective movies” or to be even more precise (or convoluted) a reversed coming-of-age movie. Of course, all the while hitting all the keywords like guns, cars, young people, what’s wrong with young people, older people are smart and the rest of the stuff. I believe if this movie was made in any other way, I would “find” something repulsive about it, but I felt strangely intrigued by Gran Torino. This is that Clint touch that I have been talking about, you can be certain that his movies would be nicely packaged. I also have to mention that, again strangely enough, I also have fascination with that particular rifle M1 Garand, which is certainly not a coincidence.
Meet Walt Kowalski, although when you hear his name, you already feel like you know him. You know he’s of Polish decent, a traditional, manly man who has seen some shit and done some shit. He’s now retired and still haunted by memories of his engagement in Korean war. With his wife dead and his declining health all seems to be going to shits for our old friend Walt, with him pushing on, no matter what. In the midst of all this, a young kid tries to steal his car and he chases him away with a rifle. When the kids’ family finds out about this, they make the kid make it up to Walt by doing all these chorus around the house and friendship is born.
Sometimes I mention how some movies are subversive and deeply reveling when it comes to some subjects. Gran Torino is not one of those movies. It has some decent dialogues and just looking from purely from an observational point, the story has a lot of value. Coming to terms with not only the death of your loved ones, but also your own mortality and seeing how everything decays around can be a daunting task. Especially if you become bitter, as most old people do (I guess). This is where friendships and abilities to let go of some preconceived notions that you held high up until then, comes into play. I also have to mention that there’s a decent amount of humor here, along with great pacing, so the movie never feels boring. It feels honest and dare I say practical, if there is such a thing. You don’t feel like they made just another movie with this subject, but that they actually had something to say and that is always a great thing.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Christopher Carley, Brian Howe
Fun Stuff: Clint Eastwood’s character’s name, Walt Kowalski, is the real name of legendary wrestler, ‘Walter “Killer’ Kowalski’.