It seems every year the Oscars get further and further from the most deserving movies.
Clint Eastwood directed, starred, and co-wrote the theme song in this quietly growling, gritty film. He plays the grumpy old widower Walt who is a hold out for his way of life.
Often seen sitting on his porch, cracking a beer and petting his dog, he simply wants to be left alone. He still takes immaculate care of his home and yard, while the neighborhood disintegrates around him. He owns a mint Gran Torino, that sits in his garage while he drives a beat-up old truck. He is a contradiction to himself. Yet, his own strict moral code prevents him from standing by when he witnesses neighborhood violence. Despite himself, he gets involved -- and begins to care. He finds purpose, even with the recent death of his wife and the distance of his children.
Eastwood could have easily made this character gruff and uninteresting. Instead he found the layers embedded in the script, and pieced together a complicated patchwork of elements. Walt is gruff, but he is more than that. He is tender, stubborn, frustrated, tired, soulful, exacting, and determined. One can't help thinking of it as a bit of an elegy for Eastwood himself - marrying his own sentiments with the rough and tumble characters he has portrayed.
The otherwise rookie cast holds their own, particularly the neighbors. In fact their relative anonymity is essential to the palpable realism they create.
Eastwood has mentioned this will be his last acting gig, but let's hope this is not his last outing as a director. He delicate touch, even with violent topics, is a welcome sight in a glut of flashy Hollywood products.