"Gran torino" – A reflection film
I had no idea how deeply this movie would affect me until the night I saw it, and then I couldn’t sleep until 4 in the morning. And she had never suffered from insomnia before!
I have long admired Clint Eastwood, going back to his days as Rowdy Yates on the TV show “Rawhide.” From “Hang ‘Em High” to “Unforgiven” and his days as Dirty Harry on the streets of San Francisco and New Orleans, Clint has always been a “man of men” and a “man of women”, something he is not. easy. for an actor (or a director) to carry it out. In his role as “Walt Kowalski,” a bigoted and widowed Korean War veteran who is particular about Pabst beers and an endless supply of cigarettes, Clint embraces this tough Pole in such a way that the viewer is always pulling at him. . Even when you’re gasping for racial slurs he hurls at his Hmong neighbors, you know he’s doing it out of emotional pain. The man has just lost his wife; On top of that, he is a combat veteran, who has likely been suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) since 1952 when he won a Medal of Valor.
The movie was shot in Detroit and from the moment “Gran Torino” started, I went back to my childhood on family visits to my grandparents’ house. They lived in a neighborhood like Walt Kowalski’s, and in a very similar house. His garage was hidden deep in the backyard, like Walt’s. My grandfather and father collectively spent 50 years in the auto industry and, like Walt, my father always rejected the idea of any car that was not “American made.” The church where Walt and his family attend his wife’s funeral is exactly the same as the one in downtown Detroit, where my family used to go to midnight mass every Christmas Eve.
Walt has two children with whom he shares nothing in common. His granddaughter (Dreama Walker) is a real brat who texts her friends during Walt’s wife’s funeral, and then later that day, when he sees her smoking a cigarette in the garage, she asks who will be staying. with Gran Torino when he dies. .
Walt’s “redemption” gets off to an unfavorable start when the young priest he praises at Walt’s wife’s funeral (played by Christopher Carley) visits the grieving widower and talks to him about life and death. Father Jablonsky says that he promised Walt’s wife that he would ask to hear Walt’s confession. Their relationship is a real tug of war because Walt says he only went to church for his wife and now that she’s gone he has no interest in her, nor in a 27-year-old priest who knows nothing of life or death. . . Still, for the next several weeks, Father Jablonsky persists, and his verbal jousts propel the film forward.
One day, Walt is on his porch to witness a local Hmong gang try to force the neighbor’s son Thao (Bee Vang) to join them. There’s a fight on the grass, and when the group crosses into Walt’s front yard, that’s it. Walt intervenes and the trajectory of his life subtly changes. He forms a bond with his precocious neighbor, “Sue” (Ahney Her), who knows how to stand up to him and enchant him. (Some Pabsts to his credit help on this.) Sue is the middle man between Walt and his brother, Thao, who had attempted to steal Walt’s beloved Gran Torino as a gang rite of passage. Thao isn’t cut out for being a gang member, and soon takes on Walt’s shoes like Sue has. At one point, after Sue forced him to come to his family’s house for a Hmong party on Walt’s birthday, Walt observes that he has had more fun with these “good neighbors” than with his own family.
What happens in the end is not entirely unexpected, and I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen the movie. But what a pleasure to watch as the neighbors he once hated became his most authentic and unexpected “comrades in arms”.
I broke into the last scene as the credits rolled on. It was a view of Lakeshore Drive next to the yacht club, a destination I used to bike to as a child, and where I would sit on the grass gazing out at the lake and contemplating my future. It was my fervent wish to become a writer and live in California, where I would meet my soul mate. My dream came true. Woof. I guess Clint’s magic is that he brought that understanding to the forefront of my mind. Thanks, Clint Eastwood. Thanks, Walt Kowalski. Thanks Detroit. Thanks, California.