Directed by and Starring Clint Eastwood
Co-starring Bee Vang
A mint condition vintage 1972 Ford Gran Torino is the symbol of Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), an old man past his prime, frozen in time, bitter at everything that has changed around him. Walt is a Korean War Vet left alone in a rundown Detroit neighbourhood full of Hmong (South East Asian) immigrants after his adult children stop visiting him, and his wife passes away. Despite initial resentment and race boundaries, a certain relationship is built between Walt and his Hmong neighbours after they find themselves battling a common enemy, a local gang that plague the streets. In particular, Walt finds himself helping out Thao (Bee Vang), a shy teenager with nothing going for him. Making friends across age, culture, and religion gaps sees Walt warm, and learn a lot about himself and the world around him.
Clint Eastwood animates the character of Walt to an amazing degree, studying the unharnessed emotions of anger, regret, sorrow and shame. Although the role of “angry old man” sounds unassuming, Eastwood presents us with an organic, multi-layered character that is never predictable. Walt is always ranting about his immigrant neighbours, “kids these days”, his priest’s persistence, and the modern world in general, but we never dislike him for it. We can tell that there is an historic storm going on inside Walt’s head, and we pity his loneliness. Eastwood does a superb job in slowly unravelling the cold layers of hatred in Walt, in a way that we still view him as a human being. The way his character is always changing immerses us in the movie. Eastwood’s character alone generates enough interest to watch the entire film, but it’s the way that Walt interacts with the other characters that is the main curiosity in the film, as he is drawn into the lives of those around him. Without Walt, there is an insufficient amount of substance to the film, so it makes sense that he is the