At the weekend we went to check out the Vue cinema, we've been using the Odeon up to now. We were pretty impressed - basically it was cinema for grown ups (they have adult only screenings for films whose BBFC rating doesn't demand it - and you can have a leather lined seat). We chose to see the new Clint Eastwood film, Gran Torino. Given Eastwood's age, any film might be the one which he chooses to make his last, and this'd be a worthy candidate. It was truly great. It's been billed in the press as being 'Dirty Harry: retired' - and that's pretty bang on. Of course, the character isn't Harry Callaghan, but Walt Kowalski. Walt is an ex-Korea veteran who has seen his neighbourhood fall into decay.
The film is named for Walt's pride and joy, his mint condition Ford Gran Torino which he keeps safe in his garage. This was the car that was used by Starsky and Hutch (I'd love it if Ford produced a new Torino with the same styling, but up to date innards!)
The film starts at his wife's funeral, and Walt is established quickly with timely growls and eye movements, as he disapproves of everyone and everything (in many cases, rightly so) - though at the wake we see how the situation came about.
The story centres around Walt's relationship with his neighbours, a family of HMong people who move in next door.
Thao, played by Bee Vang, is the main relationship Walt has in the film, and grows over time. His sister, Sue Lor, is played by Ahney Her - and she's very good indeed. Where Thao (or "Toad"'s) relationship with Walt is one of apprentice and master, Sue and Walt become peers, despite the obvious differences. For such a young actress to believably play an equal to Clint Eastwood is no mean feat - this girl deserves to go far.
Yes, it's buddy film, but it's so much more than that - it's 116 minutes of Clint doing curmudgeon with the best of 'em (often with Sergio Leone closeups).
Honestly, whilst watching the film I didn't expect Walt's fate to be what we actually got - but given how logical it was, this probably says more about me! His fate, which I won't spoil, was exactly the only thing it could have reasonably been.
Part of me wonders how different the film would have felt if we'd have had the credits just as we learn what happens to Walt? (I'm being careful with words here).
A great film. See it....
....and next week, 'Watchmen' gets released!