Gran Torino is good, really good. For a long time, I’ve heard writers and film directors talk about the importance of showing people something instead of telling them. The best films are those that set a scene which demonstrates a fundamental truth about people’s lives instead of having some character give a dramatic speech spilling out an entire philosophy of HOW IT IS and HOW IT OUGHT TO BE. Gran Torino succeeds on that score. Eastwood as the director working from a masterful script rolls out scene after scene revealing truths about our lives to us.
Is this a film, which the trailer portrays, in which we get to see Eastwood doing his Dirty Harry thing? There is some of that. No question. That’s what I went to see. But Gran Torino rewarded me with a deep reflection on America, on faith, on family, on immigration, on aging, and on heroism. Who are we as Americans? We’re immigrants. To some degree we’re nationalistic, chauvinistic, racist, aggressive. But there’s something else about us, too. We tend to come out of the right side of things. We love justice more than anything else. Gran Torino shows us all of that.
Nothing preachy here. Just solid, solid storytelling. Everything works. I can’t imagine anyone seeing this movie and feeling disappointed, as I did with the much splashier and showier Quantum of Solace, which left me empty and relatively unthrilled.