Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gran Turino

If you haven't seen the movie Grand Turino get thee to the video store. I think it's probably the best movie I've seen in the last 5 years.

Many of you have already seen it and I won't give away the ending. But the film is much less a story than a formidable testament to a man's character, as Eastwood's aging character Walt, struggles to come to terms with a changing world and his inner demons, formed in the Korean War. Living in the house he's been in most of his life, quiet after his wife dies, his kids want to put him in a "home" (while the young ones brazenly eye his beloved car and his possessions). Making things harder for him is his issue with the way his blue collar Detroit neighborhood is now overrun by other cultures and increasingly, gangs.

His new neighbors are Hmongs who at first he stereotypically despises, and then befriends, helping the two young people of the family defend themselves against local gangs. This comes to a head when Thao, the family's young son, is blackmailed by a viscous outlaw band, cousins, to try and steal Walt's Gran Torino and is caught in the act. Ashamed, he agrees to work for Walt to pay off his dishonor to him. The car is a key element in the film, more than a vehicle to the man, but a large symbol of a vanished past of men's craftsmanship, hard work ethic, community and values.

As Walt deals with his old family, and this strange new family, for that is what they have become to him, the film quietly turns down a somber path. The ending reminded me, in spirit and subtle detail, of High Noon and The Shootist.

Of course, Walt has an M1 Garand, which I had the opportunity to shoot recently. Awesome weapon. Awesome movie - get your hands on both of them if you can.