Many of us remember the crotchety old man or woman who lived on our block when we were kids. By reputation, this man or woman was known for loudly voicing their displeasure when a child’s toy landed on their lawn or when one of the neighborhood teenagers cranked their music just a little too loud.
While this character for the most part remains a 2D caricature, the 2008 film Gran Torino explores this character with a new set of eyes. Walter Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is a grizzled Korean War veteran whose pride and joy is a 1972 Gran Torino. Known for being the crotchety old man in the neighborhood, Walter not only does not get along with his neighbors, but he is also emotionally disconnected from his own family. When Walter catches Thao (Bee Vang), a teenager who is dared by his gang member cousin to steal Walter’s car, he decides to help the young man.
Walter’s mission starts out simply: to get Thao on the straight and narrow and away from the gangs. But the gangs are not going away without a fight and Walter finds himself pulled further and further into the fight.
I’m not a huge fan of Clint Eastwood, but this movie is very, very good. Though Eastwood is playing to type, he also steps away from the typecasting when he becomes the father figure to Thao and reveals the heart underneath the shell.
I absolutely recommend it.