With some films, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what it’s doing right. My knowledge of film theory is thin, so I normally end up judging films on the stories they tell – something which only makes up about 20% of the finished product, but explains why some of the greatest films of all time didn’t entertain me.
Gran Torino fits that bill better than most. More than not being able to identify what I liked about it, I found myself being overly critical of it. Clint Eastwood, as a performer, does not use subtlety in the entire first act. There’s no nuance to his acting. This can be traced back to the script, which doesn’t seem to allow the actors much breathing room to just act – instead forcing them to make audible comments so we know what they’re feeling or thinking.
As a film-maker, his attitude is similar, but here is where it pays off. Eastwood isn’t a distracted director, like so many of his younger counterparts. There’s remarkable focus and dedication to his vision in Gran Torino. It’s not a multi-layered film to be explored. It’s a story that can be summed up in one word: tradition. Walt’s traditionalism echoes Eastwood’s directing. Gran Torino isn’t a film that demands assessment – Gran Torino, like Clint Eastwood, like Walter Kowalski, prefers it old-school. Put up against modern blockbusters, with all their twists and turns, I welcome Gran Torino‘s traditional film-making values.