Only Clint Eastwood can growl, point his finger like a gun, and sell tickets! Gran Torino is definitely a vehicle for Clint. As well as starring in this movie, he directed it. Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a retired auto worker and Korean War Veteran. After the death of his beloved wife, Walt is alone in the house they have shared for many years. The neighborhood has changed dramatically. Most of his neighbors are Hmong refugees, from Southeast Asia. Walt is an unrepentant racist and, from his time in Korea, he bears a particular dislike of Asians.
As part of a gang initiation Walt’s neighbor, Thao, attempts to steal his prized 1972 Gran Torino. Using the M-1 he keeps cleaned and at the ready, Walt thwarts the burglary. As an act of repentance for his crime, Thao’s family demands that he work for Walt. The fatherless Thao learns many things from Walt, not the least of which is home repair skills. Walt develops a friendship with Thao, and with his family.
Walt also develops an unlikely friendship with Father Janovich, the local priest who ministered to his late wife. Walt and Father Janovich are both concerned about the gang violence that plagues the lives of the Hmongs. And, of course, they have different ideas about the best way to stop it.
Walt also has to deal with adult children. His two sons are financially successful, and they have little affection for their father. On Walt’s birthday, his older son brings brochures for retirement communities, so Walt can be more comfortable. This, of course, is unacceptable to the curmudgeonly Walt. Walt’s oldest grandchild wants nothing from him but the Gran Torino, and possibly a sofa for her dorm room.
While the plot of Gran Torino is rather predictable, I would still call this a must see movie. Clint Eastwood is doing very little acting lately, and it’s great to see him play a part that seems as if it were made for him.