“Gran Torino” A Star of a Story Despite the Actors

Running Time: 1 hr. 56 min.

Release Date: December 12th, 2008 (limited), January 16th, 2009 (wide)

MPAA Rating: R for language throughout and some violence.

Distributors: Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

JJ Rating: B+

Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is a widower who is grumpy like one of the old men from Grumpy Old Men, but more in a dramatic way. He lives in a neighborhood that is being ‘invaded’ by Koreans and being a Korean War veteran he uses terms of endearment for each and every one of them. When Tao (Bee Vang) tries to steal his 1973 Gran Torino for his cousin that is in a gang a connection between Walt and Tao starts, and Walt pretends, very hard, he doesn’t care for his neighbor’s well being but it’s apparent he cares a lot. Gangs mess around and Walt tells them to get lost. He doesn’t put up with their bull and they are thrown by an old man who will not back down. Grand Torino.

Sometimes a movie comes along and it’s the story that is stunning more so than anything else the film has to offer. Grand Torino is that kind of movie. It puts the story first and that is why so many people feel the vibe. Those that don’t feel the vibe are complaining about the acting by those who were the Korean characters and even complain about Clint Eastwood.

Let me start with Clint Eastwood. I think he is a good director. He has a vision and he follows through with it. He’s not afraid to play around with certain things such as drama. This film is considered a drama and a thriller. There is no mention of it being a comedy, but some of the framing was done during the beginning added to the funny. One example is when Walt was getting pissed off because his son and daughter-in-law were trying to force him into a home via being polite about how he would like it. The camera got close to his face and he growled. I laughed. I like that kind of directing and focus. It’s not pigeonholed by themes. Eastwood is willing to waver a bit and give something different. As for his acting I think it was different than just the scowl he’s famous for. It’s the subtle things like when he uses his fingers like a gun and how he gestures so smoothly and coolly. It’s like when he is talking to the Father and his eyes do more of the talking than his mouth. I’m always fascinated by a director who also stars in the film. I want to see how pretentious the film is and I do not believe that is a word one could use in describing Grand Torino.

The other actors were decent as they could and should be. I happen to live around a lot of Asians and I know some Koreans and I think that the way they acted on the screen is close enough to reality. They may not have acted bold like people you know, but they acted like Koreans. If I go into how I think that it’ll just sound a bit racist so I’m going to skip telling people exactly why and just state that that’s how I viewed the acting. Yes it was a bit awkward but that’s how it should feel. The movie was to place the viewers in an uncomfortable area of their mind.

I did not enjoy the ending. Throughout the entire film there is not enough information on Walt’s family so I don’t know why they are pissed, why they want this or why they want that. So when they show them at the end it was sort of a pointless scene that could have had more depth and feeling if the film handled the family better. I also have another gripe about the film that would be about the ending but that would give something away and I don’t like to give endings away.

Grand Torino is a different kind of telling of a story that people either have lived through or seen in a film before. It’s not told in the same manner, though. It’s a good example of if the story is number one then people will enjoy the film and look past some things they would gripe about otherwise. Even though I dislike two things about the ending I do like one thing about the ending, and that is it is a profound type ending that begs the question: Would you be able to do the same thing for your friends? Would you be able to do the same thing to save the ones you love?

I could not watch this film again. I have always hated gangs and this movie just totally makes me hate them more. They serve no purpose other than to inflict harm on those who have the potential to be great and make a difference in so many lives by doing so many things that don’t involve selling drugs or killing people because they looked at you sideways. Grand Torino is a powerful story more so than powerful in acting and if you do happen to go see it keep that in mind and you’ll allow things to pass by your idea of what is great acting, and see the story that means more than those that put forth the effort to bring it to the screen.


Anonymous said...

The characters in the film are not Koreans. They are Hmongs, which is in South East Asia (near Vietnam, Laos, Thailand). It is COMPLETELY different from Korea. Please get your geography and history correct if you are going to write an article and comment on cultures which are obviously foreign to you.

J_Jammer said...

The main reason I stated what I said was because it was the Korean War he was in and therefore made a, apparently, bad conclusion that they would be who he had seen in the Korean war, making them Korean.

Normally I read the descriptions of the movies so that I don't miss something, but I still missed something.

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