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#18: Gran Torino

August 8, 2009

I realize this movie came about about 6 months ago. I never had the chance to see it in theaters, but was able to borrow the copy my parents’ rented from Netflix and watch it tonight.

I’ve always considered myself a Clint Eastwood fan. Granted, I haven’t seen every Eastwood film, but I have yet to see an Eastwood film that I didn’t enjoy. Of course it’s quite possible that my fascination with some of his classic characters (the man with no name, Dirty Harry, etc.) has convinced me that I can enjoy everything he is in.

Gran Torino was a very interesting film for me. There were parts of it that seemed over the top and there was definitely some rough acting, but something about the film resonated with me. In both of the main characters (Walt and Thao) I found elements of myself that I struggle with from time to time. In brief, Walt is an old haunted by ghosts of his past that he doesn’t want to talk about. His wife has just died and because of his past he was never able to connect with his children. The boy, Thao, is naive,  quiet and comes off as weak. He has yet to begin to forge his own path in life and is torn between doing what is right and what is easy.

In these two characters I saw my non-expressive nature and the naivete of my age. I recognized and identified with their reserved beginnings and their desires to take the next step in their lives. This is where I felt the movie excelled. I found the plot of the film and its execution to be very honest and real. The evolution of these two characters through their interactions with each other and their respective cultures exemplified both the ability of individuals to reach out to each other across generational and cultural barriers.

Overall I really felt like this film was simple enough to understand, but also something that was able to be enjoyed at a more complex level. I appreciated how it took a displaced culture (the Hmong) and explored their interactions with an old-school (perhaps too much so) American. This isn’t an easy film to watch for people sensitive to violence (though the most violent part of the film isn’t shown, only it’s aftermath), blatant racism or general coarse language, but the film certainly uses those elements to build the story rather than detract through flippant abuse. While I wouldn’t recommend this film to just anyone, I do feel like it’s something that most viewers could sit through and appreciate.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Meg permalink
    April 6, 2010 9:47 pm

    Like i’ve told Ryan, this movie took many elements from another older movie called On the Waterfront. On the Waterfront has Marlon Brando (pre-Godfather) and Eva Marie Saint. I think since there are so many similar elements, i can compare the two and say that On the Waterfront is a much better choice.. it’s widely regarded as a classic. Have you ever seen a clip of Marlon Brando saying.. “I coulda been a contender..” that’s from On the Waterfront.

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