Clint Eastwood stars and directs in this picture, and he does both very well.
In the film, Eastwood plays Walt. Having just lost his wife, Walt now lives alone and unfortunately has a poor relationship with his kids. His quiet life takes a turn, though, when a young man is caught snooping around his 1972 Gran Torino. The boy, Thao (Vang) begins doing chores for Walt to earn his respect and eventually Walt begins a friendship with Thao and his family.
The situation turns bad, though, because of Thao’s extended family, many of whom are involved in gang violence.
“Gran Torino” is a film with healthy doses of humor and heart and much of it comes from Eastwood as Walt. His character appears cruel at first, but Thao, as well as his sister, begin to make him more open as the movie goes on and the sense of a makeshift family that’s created feels genuine.
This evolution is matched by Walt’s view on the gang related violence. While Walt mostly wants to be left alone, as he becomes closer with his neighbors, he begins to realize he may be the only hope for peace they have.
Because of this, it’s easy to see that Eastwood is the one carrying most of the picture. He captures the old, grieving man who wants to be left alone who deep down has a heart of gold and a sense of right and wrong. It makes his character especially endearing.
Credit also has to go to the supporting cast, though. While certainly less experienced than Eastwood, they hold their own in the dialogue and the friendship they build with Walt is very believable.
While having its share of sad moments, “Gran Torino” is at its core a heart warming story, and it warrants a 4 out of 5.