Opens Dec. 19, 2008. Run time: 1 hr. 56 min.
|for language throughout, and some violence|
Walt Kowalski, an iron-willed veteran living in a changing world, who is forced by his immigrant neighbors to confront his own long-held prejudices. The people he once called his neighbors have all moved or passed away, replaced by Hmong immigrants, from Southeast Asia, he despises. Resentful of virtually everything and everyone he sees, Walt is just waiting out the rest of his life, until the night his teenage neighbor Thao tries to steal his prized '72 Gran Torino, under pressure from Hmong gang-bangers. But Walt stands in the way of both the heist and the gang, making him the reluctant hero of the neighborhood-especially to Thao's mother and older sister, Sue, who insist that Thao work for Walt as a way to make amends. Though he initially wants nothing to do with these people, Walt eventually gives in and puts the boy to work, setting into motion an unlikely friendship that will change both their lives.
Recent OnMilwaukee.com story about Gran Torino
Clint Eastwood's epic new film "Gran Torino" opens in Milwaukee this Friday, Jan. … Read more...
Recent OnMilwaukee.com blog about Gran Torino
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Gran Torino is a film that will amuse, anger and ultimately move you -- due in large part to Clint Eastwood's sheer magnum force. Story Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is an angry, racist ex-Marine -- recently widowed and living alone with his dog in his old neighborhood, now overrun with mostly Asian gangs. When the next door youth, A Hmong teen named Thao (Bee Vang) tries to steal his beloved Gran Torino, he strikes up a relationship with the boy that profoundly changes both. As Thao and his sister, Sue Lor (Ahney Her) are threatened by gang members, Walt springs into action and sets out to clean up the neighborhood, using his gun and anything else at his disposal. Meanwhile, his son (Brian Haley) and daughter-in-law (Geraldine Hughes) show up trying to convince Dad that it is time to move away from the ever-changing suburb he has lived in for so many decades and try a retirement community, a prospect Walt will have nothing to do with.
Acting Eastwood gives the performance of a lifetime in Gran Torino. You will be reminded of everything that has made him a major star for five decades and astonished at the remarkable new challenges he sets for himself -- even in the sunset of a stellar screen career. Even though Kowalski's language and attitudes verge on the Archie Bunker mentality, Eastwood's dry delivery of such offending lines actually elicits more laughter than outrage. It's almost as if we are looking at what 'Dirty' Harry Callahan might have been like in retirement. His humanity is eventually allowed to shine through, and it's the journey that the actor takes with this character that makes Torino so worthwhile.
Amazingly, Eastwood has never won an Oscar for acting but Gran Torino might change things. Of the young newcomers, Vang and Her are sweetly convincing and good foils for Walt's crankiness. Direction As usual, Clint Eastwood the director paces the drama in a leisurely manner, letting things unfold in its own due time. More than any other recent film he's directed, including his most recent film Changeling, Gran Torino seems defiantly old fashioned in its storytelling. Reportedly, Clint didn't change a word of first-time screenwriter Nick Schenk's script and that does lend itself to some awkward moments , particularly in scenes with the neighbors.
Clint has always been interested in different aspects of the race issues in America and here uses a disgruntled Marine to express what is simmering below the surface in many pockets of American life. Although younger audiences may find the film's rhythms rather slow, the ultimate payoff is huge, and Clint fans are likely to eat it up. Bottom Line Hollywood.com rated this film 3 1/2 stars.-Pete Hammond.
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