Friday, 27 February 2009
Gran Torino (2008)
Many of the reviews for Clint Eastwood's Gran Turino have conjured up the iconic image of "Dirty" Harry Callaghan, but that's to miss the point: Walt Kowalski is not some maverick cop trying to protect the public from its own perceived lack of moral grit, he's a bitter war vet who's increasingly more of an alien in his run-down Detroit community than the "gooks" whose arrival he despises.
Eastwood now resembles a Rockwell sketch of Mount Rushmore, with a growl low enough to be detected by whales fifty miles away, and he brings a depth and humour to Walt which allows us to empathise with him whilst finding distasteful many of the views he expresses. Ironically, this strength proves one of the film's weaknesses: it relies too much upon its star, and one can't help wondering how differently Eastwood the director would have handled the material. Still, if this is indeed his swansong in front of the camera, it's a damned fine performance to go out on.
[First published on LiveJournal, February 2009]