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Friday, September 30, 2016
Gran Torino: a modern morality tale
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Clint Eastwood turns in his best performance in years in this thoughtful film which explores the themes of reconciliation, sacrifice and redemption in a less-seen view of American suburban life. Eastwood, who is nearly 80 now, also directed and produced the film and wrote some of the music.

Set in a run-down old neighbourhood of Detroit, the film opens with the angry old Korean war vet and retired car worker Walt Kowalski at his wife's funeral. He winces at the sight of his grandaughter's bare midriff in the pews and shrugs off the sympathy offered by his in-laws and the wet-behind-the-ears young curate. (Christopher Carley)

Returning to his old house he spends his days slouching on the porch with his dog, drinking beer and cursing the strange new immigrant community that have taken over the neighbourhood where he and his wife raised their family. .

When Thao, the teenage son of his Hmong (an ethnic group who fled SE Asia during the Vietnam War) neighbours is caught trying to steal Walt's beloved 1972 Gran Torino car, he is forced to work for Walt to regain his family’s honour. They also shower Walt with gifts of food and and persist in inviting him to family gatherings until he finally gives in and discovers that he likes their food.

Gradually, as Walt tries to set Thao on the right path, he learns that the only way to lay his own demons to rest is to confront his prejudices. And as he starts caring, he finds it harder to let the gangs continue to rule his neighborhood.

In another film this could have become a sentimental morality tale. Here it is tough to the end. However many more films Eastwood makes, this is likely to be his perfect final performance.

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Tags: Clint Eastwood, Gran Tornino


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