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February 5, 2009

Not Just Another Ride in a Gran Torino.

Every once in a while a movie comes that wows me, not for it's star power nor for it's amazing special effects or even acting prowess. Rather, it wows me for the simple reason that it is a great story. This is what Gran Torino is....not just another great movie because it stars and was directed by Clint Eastwood but because it weaves a deeply moving story.

From the first time I caught the trailer of Gran Torino during the Benjamin Button screening, and again during Yes Man, I knew this was one movie I had to catch...and that was just with the trailer. I have to admit, however, that the trailer did not really completely capture the essence of the Gran Torino experience. I did not expect it to be as thought-provoking as it really is.

The movie tells the story of an elderly man whose family all but has abandoned him because of his stubborn old ways. Walt Kawalski is an embittered old man who tells things as they are, without a care on how people would feel about him. Satisfied with his beef jerky, beers and the company of his dog Daisy, he couldn't care less about his neighbors, the parish priest or even his own children. Until one night when a gang initiation entered his world.
From an attempted robbery blossomed a beautiful friendship between Walt and two neighborhood teens from the Hmong people. Being a bigoted man, Walt did not really take these foreigners in with much pleasure, but after getting to know Su and Thao, he began to soften up and begin to care about others again. When gang troubles continued to hound his neighbors, and violence erupted, Walt made sure to find a way to solve the problem.

The story is not just another gang-banger story, hence the title of this post. While this may be the general tone of the tale, the underlying reminders of tolerance, understanding, acceptance and rejecting discrimination are deeply ingrained. I've seen a lot of movies that dealt with the same story line, but this one is not just another one of those. It made me question a lot of my personal biases and opened my eyes to the little disciminatory behaviors I have every now and then. A word of warning, however: it is a tear-jerker. Well, not a complete sob-fest, but you will definitely feel a tug on your heartstrings. Given that it is a Clint Eastwood film, I did not expect that, not one bit! One thing I truly enjoyed about the film, however, is how despite the tears welling in my eyes and the chunks rising in my throat, a lot of laughs, light moments and catchy quotes are interspersed in the dialogue, which kept me quite engrossed in the movie.

If there is one movie to see for February, this is it. Gran Torino will screen in the Philippines on February 18, 2009. I do not often recommend films in the cinemas as options for class requirements but this one may just change my mind. It's that good.

3 stars twinkling:

Jon 2/06/2009 01:49:00 AM  

nice review ria! =)

Ria 2/06/2009 04:51:00 PM  

thanks jon! super loved talaga the movie. char!

Patrick,  2/07/2009 03:48:00 PM  

sounds interesting I will try to watch it here. thanks ria =)

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