Monday, March 16, 2009

Gran Torino

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 9th Jan’09 (USA)
Time : 116 minutes
Director : Clint Eastwood; Writer : Nick Schenk Dave Johannsen
Starring : Clint Eastwood, Christopher Carley, Bee Vang, Ahney Her

I would like Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra to watch this film just to learn how to deliver social messages without getting too emotional(like Rang De) or heavy-handed / preachy (like Dilli 6). Don’t get me wrong, I liked both the films but they would have been far better if they had the naturalness and authenticity of Gran Torino, a wonderful slow moving drama of an elderly widower who’s life hasn’t turned out exactly how he would have wanted it.

Clint Eastwood is the very personification of a man who is frustrated. For starters, in the opening frame itself, he has lost his dear wife. He’s bothered by the kind of clothes his grand kids are wearing and what they’re doing (smoking, sms-ing, joking among themselves – the last even applying to his own kids). He’s upset by the number of foreigners who’ve moved into his neighbourhood – Orientals / Blacks etc. He’s upset at the way his two sons have turned out and he struggles to have a conversation with them. He’s upset that his next door neighbours are Oriental, noisy, clannish and always having people over. And the young boy who lives there is a bit of a wimp. So, when due to unusual circumstances, he begins to bond with his neighbours, its almost as much a surprise for the audience as it is for his character.

How this bond develops and the lessons of life this crochety old man is able to teach (without trying to) those around him, including a priest who had promised his now deceased wife that he would make him confess, is then the focus of the rest of the film. The film is extraordinarily foul-mouthed and full of racist jibes – slopes / dragon lady / gook head being probably the mildest forms of address used for the orientals and quips like ‘how do you like your dogs ?’ being the softer of the racist jokes.

The way the movie builds up is quite amazing – the pace always remains gentle – yet there is increased tension towards the end. And the situation that is created at the end and how Clint Eastwood resolves it is brilliant. The acting is very good as well, from him and form the support cast. Sometimes, we are dealt a set of cards that don’t leave you with many choices. How we play in that situation is probably as best a test of character as we’re likely to find and Clint Eastwood’s characters choice fills you with respect and admiration. At the end of the day, all I can say is ‘it made my day, punk !’

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