Sunday, June 14, 2009

GRAN TORINO (Clint Eastwood, 2008, USA) Walt finally earns his Silver Star for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States, not by killing a young boy…but by saving one instead. Walt Kowalski is an anachronism, a warrior ghost who haunts a homestead he must defend from invasion. As his neighborhood changes he is witness to outsiders inhabiting his static world, Hmong citizens who barely (if at all) speak English, perceived foreigners that trespass upon his territory, igniting a moral conflagration that threatens his gasoline powered American values. Director Clint Eastwood has created a subtle narrative whose trajectory isn’t blasted from a Korean era M1 rifle; instead, he focuses upon a lonely dying man who realizes that it’s never to late to change, his final metamorphosis is an emotional salvation that sublimates a corrosive disease that is a by-product of his violent past. Kowalski himself is obviously a descendant of immigrants, not much different than those he chooses to condemn and deride. Eastwood portrays Walt with a grimace of deep angst and a wounded growl of pain, but imbues him with humanity and humor while (mostly) overcoming caricature. But the film’s flaws relegate most of the supporting cast to hackneyed characterizations and the familial relationship between his two sons is poorly acted and rather monotonous. The plot is boilerplate and predictable and it’s only Eastwood’s high-octane persona that fuels the engine. The boyish Catholic Priest is pretentious and unreasonable, offering only hollow words to heal Walt’s wounds; this young seminarian knows nothing of either life or death and his inclusion in the drama is annoying and obtuse. Father Janovich is a figurehead for the writer to say something profound but only fills the screenplay with needless and inane prattle. Though ripe with stereotypes, GRAN TORINO doesn’t delve into DEATH WISH theatrics: after all, Walt only fires one shot…and it’s accidental! Walt’s final messianic pose nearly crucifies the story’s sudden impact thus relegating the final resolution to a far-fetched but heartfelt climax. (C)

6 comments:

Mark said...

Alex, hit this nail on the head, good stuff.

Alex DeLarge said...

Thanks Prof!!

Bob Clapes said...

hey, good job with your reviews.
check out mine.
illuminatemyeyes.blogspot.com

Alex DeLarge said...

Just joined your friends list Bob, great blog! It's refreshing to connect with others who see film as art and not only superficial entertainment.

Bob Clapes said...

I agree, it's always good to find people that truly appreciate film. Thanks for joining the friends list. I added you to my blog roll. I will spend time reading your reviews.

Sashindoubutsu said...

You write good reviews. Perhaps you can write a movie, too. I enjoyed reading your posts..^^