Gran Turino is worth seeing because it stems from true emotions of a time long forgotten. A time when America had issues with race and a time where people can speak their minds of how other Colors run their country to the ground. Clint Eastwood’s craggy-faced Korean veteran character personifies the riffle-toting grandpa, which is both patriotic and extreme.
Walt Kowalsi (Eastwood) is now alone after his beloved wife dies. He’s closer to his dog Daisy than he is to his grandchildren. No one in the neighborhood likes him and he doesn’t like any of them either. He has a prized 1972 Gran Torino that everybody wants their hands on. He is also the only self respecting all-American in a neighborhood filled with Asians and gangs that threaten to break the already vulnerable structure. As an Asian, I wouldn’t want to be his neighbor, come to think of it, I don’t fancy being in his neighborhood.
By this time, loneliness slowly creeps in, in the most obscure way possible. He walks his days with a growl that speaks volumes of how the country he defended in his early life has fallen to an altered realism. His opinion of the world is summed up by his encompassing scowl, period.
But when a gang bang threatens to trash his lawn, he steps to protect it and by this time, we know grandpa ain’t joking (“Get. Off. My. Lawn … or I’ll blow a hole in your face then go inside and sleep like a baby”). The next morning his doorsteps are filled with gifts and food. To his surprise, the Asians are thanking him for what he did the night before. He shuns them with a glare but none of that get’s to them, because as per tradition it’s not polite to look a man straight in the eye. The neighborhood can be pretty persistent but all their presents just end up in the trash. Try as he may the Asian’s starts to grow on him. He stricks a friendship with a young teenage girl named Sue and learns that her brother – who tried to steal his Grand Torino,whom he aptly calls “pussy” – is actually smart. As the days progress, he finds a common ground with his neighbors but still keeps to racial slurs.
And then the story unravels to a turning point that narrows Walt’s theory of America to it’s truest idea. The truth is, he only wants people to be descent. The America he knows, fought for and worked hard for shadowed the real problem by his bigotry. He really doesn’t loath them, it’s what they do wrong that he despise. The direct, no-nonsense old man who has seen the failure of the system is now redeeming himself whilst redeeming the neighborhood.
The title is a humdinger of Walt’s idealized past. If he was in the old west, you’ll normally conclude him to be just one of them cowboy’s with hard principles. The film is endearing and at times funny because Walt’s insesitivities can simply come off as a joke. Although there are pitfalls in Thao and Sue’s acting, the rest of the movie is still very forceful. Perhaps having an iconic Clint Eastwood direct and produce the whole thing made it’s success certain.
Gran Torino‘s final act is too poignant to rationalize. The encompassing Marxism of the hero’s final fight was deep and sad. Yet it’s message carried it home and back.