GRAN TORINO (Limited Release 2008)

Directors: Clint Eastwood

Writers: Nick Schenk
Story by Dave Johannson & Nick Schenk

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Christopher Carley, Bee Vang

Rating: R (violence and language)
Run time: 116 minutes

Genre: Crime/drama

Available on DVD

Reviewed by James K. Lewis

Excellent movie with a difficult start. Nothing wrong, but Clint Eastwood starts the movie as an old racist neighbor. Korean War combat-veteran Walt Kowalski has just lost his wife of forever. He is the last caucasion holdout in a white neighborhood turned Korean. The local priest takes seriously his promise to the then dying Mrs. Kowalksi, to look in on Mr. Kowalski after her death. The good father will be more careful with his promises in the future. Eastwood’s Kowalski is one cranky old cuss, not a charmer.

Kowalski tries to maintain his privacy, but circumstances will not let him. A local gang demands a teen-aged neighbor steal Kowalski’s vintage, cherry, Pontiac Gran Torino. The attempt goes awry. The horrified family of the youth insists that Mr. Kowalksi permit the boy to work off his penance by helping around the house. Our story begins.

As Mr. Kowalski gets to know the boy, he also gets to know others in the family. After performing a courageous act in defense of the Korean teens, the grateful extended family overwhelms him with kindness and Korean food.

Kicking and screaming, Kowalski is dragged into the Koreatown culture and enjoys the appreciation and gratitude of several generations. The movie has several twists and surprises, as well as a few heart warming moments. Clint doesn’t let us down. His character arcs over to the wonderful man we paid to see. Don’t miss it.

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