Last night I had the pleasure of watching Gran Torino. At first glance this movie appears to be a rather standard issue Clint Eastwood piece filled with snapped quips and just as much gunfire, and in many ways it is, but it is the subtle clips that give it life beyond a typical Eastwood shoot em up. Please understand prior to watching this film that it is absolutely laden with racial epitaphs – Eastwood’s character uses them as I would a comma – the ironic part being that the racial slurs become a foundation for the film, in many ways they are the reason for it.
I could write a long movie review basically giving away the entire film, but I am not going to do that. Instead I am going to point out why this film is so important, at the least to me. There are many moments in Gran Torino where nothing is actually being said, and it is these moments where the most powerful messages are revealed. Often times we count on a great speech delivered by a brilliant orator to grab us, but it is the lack of sound that can be so compelling at times, especially when accompanied by a powerful visual. The bits are small but grab, not quite on the level that the few color scenes from Schindler’s List effect you, but they have their own dark sinister pull all their own.
Understand that this film is a delivery mechanism for an unspoken commentary on the present state of our society. It pokes at the nightmare that we have all pitched in to create and are now forced to live with. In fact the point to this movie is how the main character, Eastwood’s, doesn’t want to sleep in the same bed with the rest of us. He is old, has seen too many things, is packed full of hate and rage, and wants nothing more than to be left alone to stew in his own self manufactured misery. The thing about that is that people, especially Americans, have a difficult time leaving anyone alone – and that is the rub.
For me to elaborate on any of the mindless dribble that I have spewed forth here would equate to me ruining the film for you. I would love to focus on the little bits, but if I did I would only lessen their impact on you. If you leave the film not having noticed anything that I have eluded to here (or that Caravaggio has written about in the past on Blinkinblogs) then you really should ask yourself this: Can I not see the problem because I am the problem?