July 02, 2012

Gran Torino

Gran Torino was a 2008 drama movie starring Clint Eastwood, who also happened to be the director and one of the producers. It also starred Ahney Her and Bee Vang as Sue and Thao, respectively, young Hmong AMericans who became Walt Kowalski's (Eastwood) friends. Also part of the cast were Christopher Carley, Doug Moua, Sonny Vue, and Brian Haley. The cast was crazy good, especially the four main stars: Eastwood, Vang, Her and Carley. I especially liked the dynamics of Carley, who played a priest, and Eastwood - hilarious but also had philosophical depth. The movie went on to be Eastwood's most commercially successful movie earning almost 270 million dollars worldwide.

I've always liked Clint Eastwood movie, the moment I saw Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. I  really liked both movies, and that's when I realized the impressive quality of Clint Eastwood movies. There's also Million Dollar Baby (http://mrfilmreviewer.blogspot.com/2012/06/million-dollar-baby.html) which I genuinely enjoyed and admired. Then there's Gran Torino, which I initially thought was an action flick. It's a drama movie about an elderly war veteran, Walt Kowalski, played by Clint Eastwood, who recently lost his wife. After some twists and turns, he then befriended a family of Hmong Americans, and the story proceeds to develop this highly unlikely bond. Just like other Eastwood movies, granted I've only seen a few, I one again enjoyed this.

This is a perfect example of slow and steady. It maintained its pace, not too slow that it got boring, but not too fast that there was no time to breathe. Maybe it's because Gran Torino was a mellow movie. It carefully structured itself in a clear manner. The introduction f the characters, the initial interactions, or lack there of, the establishment of relationships, and the development of a strong connection with these strangers. I actually thought that I would be bored by the movie, but surprisingly I wasn't. Even I was shocked to find myself actually digging the movie and enjoying myself. It was a light, calm, joyous movie. Well, for the most part, at least.

Another thing worth mentioning about this movie was how it introduced Hmong culture to people who weren't as knowledgeable about them. I didn't even know about Hmong Americans before I saw this movie. Actually I had never heard of Hmong Americans before. But after seeing the movie, I had enough, or at least a few, insights about who they are, how they live, their traditions, culture, and beliefs. When Walt was interacting with the Hmong, Sue kept orienting him about what's disrespectful, the things he could and could not do. While Walt was learning the complexities of learning another's culture, I was also learning and being educated by it.

Other than the culture or beliefs, it also portrayed the lifestyle of the Hmongs. Sue even stated it: Girl;s go to college, and boys go to jail. This line encapsulates the movie in the Hmongs perspective. Starting with the family, Sue and Thao live with only their mother and grandmother. Also, the film's main antagonist, who I somehow really wanted to get killed or something in the movie, was a male cousin of Sue and Thao. The movie showed how this particular cousin was living his life with his gang: alcohol, violence, guns, and the like. I'm sure it would be ridiculous to generalize that all Hmong men would do crazy, nasty things while the women go off to make something out of their lives. I think that's what Thao represents. A Hmong boy who wandered into the dark side a bit, but managed to stay on the good side, thanks to the guidance of Walt.

The ending was smart and critical but I hoped for another ending. The ending was really smart, actually, and very moving. I just hoped the writers would have gone in another direction, let Walt blow-up the house, or just shoot the gang. They went for a more intellectual, artistic route, which I really couldn't complain about since I was actually impressed by the ending. I do see the artistry in the ending, and how it was a creative way to ensure the safety of Sue and Thao. A sacrifice that really begs for sympathy and empathy. This ending made me realize I have the utmost respect and admiration for Eastwood and his always brilliant work.

The movie was great in every single way. It's soothing and calming, but also strong and powerful. Check it out! You can follow me on twitter @sirfilmreviewer or email me at mrfilmreviewer@yahoo.com. You can also follow this blog by checking the right side of the page.

No comments:

Post a Comment