DRAMA; 1hr 56min
STARRING: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her
Dirty Harry high-pants: from left, Eastwood, Vang, Brooke Chia Thao, Chee Thao and Her
A great storyteller goes steadily about his business, building to a point of no return. That’s exactly the way director and star Eastwood plays it with Gran Torino, a deeply shaded portrait of an angry old man (Eastwood as Korean War veteran Walt Kowalski) whose orderly Detroit neighbourhood is usurped by Asians.
Newly widowed and distanced from his grown sons (Brian Haley and Brian Howe), Walt is a stiff-necked stereotype. Eastwood gets him completely, husking out withering insults even while hinting at Walt’s tarnished humanity. And sure enough, after a shaky start in which the teenage son (Vang; Her is his vivacious sister) of a Hmong clan next door is pressured by a gang into attempting to steal Walt’s cherished 1972 Ford Gran Torino, the resentful bigot is won over by the family’s generous ways.
The surface ripples of Nick Schenk’s screenplay quiver with a swelling sense of danger. Eastwood makes practiced work of it with a performance that grows richer as it develops, heightened by a grace that Hollywood’s lowest-key achiever has long since made his own.