Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gran Torino: Shows that sometimes the simple message is better

I’ve been debating for a while on how to approach this particular film. With all the hype with all the sci-fi superhero films with heavy CGI out now, sometimes we overlook the simpler films that are also out there. 

The ones that many not have the flashy CGI or over-stimulated action sequences with explosions galore, yet send a quiet but powerful message. No, this isn’t about “Passion of the Christ”, (I think one of our other bloggers will post on that film later on if not already) this one is about “Gran Torino” one of the 2008 films directed and started Clint Eastwood. Why this film you ask? 

Well for myself, I went into seeing this film, I wasn’t really expecting much, despite hearing a lot of interesting opinions and critiques about it, (some negative, many positive). For me it did have a profound effect on my outlook on certain aspects of life. Some of which I have already seen and/or experienced first hand or have seen through others experience and actions. Yeah that sounds a tad heavy for just this film, but let me go into detail.

The theme of ageism is a noted key aspect in this film. Though be it not the only one. Clint’s character, Walt Kowalski, was indeed a real ‘piece of work’, disgruntled, surly, cantankerous, volatile, and sadly yet not surprisingly a bigot. Clint made sure to show that side of his character throughout the film. 

Oddly enough, despite the many shortcomings and issues Walt has, you can’t help but empathize with him as the movie continues. This is especially true when seeing the disrespectful behaviors of his grandchildren and the indifference of his adult sons and daughters-in-law during his wife’s funeral. This actually reminded me of some of the older patients I deal with both at work and during my volunteering at the hospital. Some are quick to judge an older person as miserable, and too difficult to deal with. But I’ll bet if one took the time to see things from their perspective, you might see why they are what they are. Walt’s character in this film captures this perfectly. 

Another theme in this film is bigotry, and rising above those same preconceptions (err somewhat). The film has rather large cast of Hmong (Asian) Americans, which several character play circuital roles in this film towards Walt, both positively and negatively. I won’t go into details of how any why. Let’s just say when it comes to relating to Walt, it really becomes a learning experience, on tolerance, differences, similarities, and mutual respect. 

The film also shows when to pick and choose your battles, and doing the right thing…even if it may cost you something dear. There is also one area of the film I really found interesting. That was the part of acceptance and accountability. Near the end of the film, when a certain confrontation seems inevitable, Walt’s makes certain preparations for himself and for those around him. One of which was something he was against doing in the beginning of the film, he goes to Father Janovich (played by Christopher Carley) for a confession. In that confession he states though he never showed it, he’s deeply regretful for not being closer to his adult children or their families. He’s aware that his own gruffness, and stubbornness as he raised them, caused the strain on their relationships as they got older. Not sure why, but I found this part to be very touching. Dispite still acting and being a major hard—well you know, he still can show he’s man enough to know where he’s responsible for some of his long term outcomes, rather than blaming everyone else and the world, and in his own way, try to remedy this. 

Overall, this film I thought I wouldn’t think much of, I ended up enjoying...alot. I guess its one of those films where the cover makes you think, meh, typical run of the mill drama drivel. Then when seeing it, realize this is a very deep film. I’m sure there is a lot more themes in this film Ive overlooked, as well as some scenes of “questionable” nature, but I just wanted to highlight some of the themes I found in this film to be…enlightening.

And, I’m and curious. Those of you who have seen this film - opinions? Questions? Thoughts?

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