Liz Caskey

Gran Torino can best be described with one word … extraordinary.

Saturday afternoon I had every intention of walking through the blistering cold to Oxford’s beloved movie theater to see the predictable gore-fest, My Bloody Valentine.

However, a series of unforeseen events graciously prevented me from wasting my time and money on that travesty-apparently while the “scary” movie is featured at the Princess, the ability for it to be viewed in 3D is nonexistent. It was something about a lack of technology, who would have guessed that? And I was so pumped for the 3D glasses!

With wholehearted thanks to the movie gods-and the lone Princess employee who actually rolled his eyes at my initial movie choice-my housemate and I changed course and were drawn to see Gran Torino.

A Clint Eastwood virgin, I was unsure and skeptical of what to expect from the grimacing, snarling old-man image he is so notorious for. I left a changed woman.

Gran Torino, starring and directed by Clint Eastwood, is everything a movie should be. It is inspirational, honest, humorous and heartbreaking. Written by Dave Johannson and Nick Schenk, Gran Torino is light years ahead of other movies’ abilities to capture reality in its rawest form.

The film centers around Walt Kowalski (Eastwood), a retired Korean War veteran. Hardened by his past and the recent loss of his wife, Walt is closed off to everyone around him. He detests his heartless money-grubbing family pushing him to move out of his gang-banger neighborhood and is disgusted by his Hmong immigrant neighbors “taking over the neighborhood.” Constantly mumbling a slew of racial slurs, Walt finds comfort solely in his loyal dog, Beef Jerky, Pabst Blue Ribbon and mint condition 1972 Gran Torino.

When Thao (Bee Vang), Walt’s teen neighbor, attempts to steal the Gran Torino as part of a Hmong gang initiation, it triggers a series of events that begin to alter Walt’s hermitic lifestyle. He is forced to interact with his immigrant neighbors and falls for the charm of Sue (Ahney Her)-Thao’s witty and intelligent older sister. Walt’s immersion into Thao and Sue’s family forces him to reconsider his cynical outlook on life.

Clint Eastwood’s performance is the ideal addition to the outstanding story and faultless visual imagery of Gran Torino. Eastwood manages to perfectly capture the personality and inner turmoil of the war veteran, who seems to be just waiting out the rest of his life. The actor is a delight to the big screen, despite the growling and grimacing character he portrays. The audience can’t help but fall in love and sympathize with him.

Eastwood was the clear standout in the film, yet his young co-stars served as the perfect compliment to his brilliant performance. Both in their acting debut, Vang and Her’s fresh youth balance out the maturity and ruggedness of Eastwood.

Every aspect, scene and character of Gran Torino are perfect pieces, all enabling the film to outshine any others of its time. Truly one of the best of the year, Gran Torino is quintessentially perfect … although 3D glasses would have been pretty sweet.

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