Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is a hard man. Gran Torino opens to find Walt at his wife's funeral. An elderly man almost invincible at her wake. While his son and family float among the place as if he doesn't exist. Their intentions are solely to suit themselves. With that Walt's community is ever changing, the old American's (and one wonders where Kowalski came from..Poland?) like himself, have seen their own families grow to have their own, and everyone around him has either moved on or died. Enter the new residents and his neighbours in particular, a large family of Hmong people and girl and boy who set this story into action.
Young Hmong boy Thao is under direct peer pressure from his cousins gang to infiltrate Walt's garage and steal his prized possesion, his Gran Torino. Thao does not succeed. Young Hmong girl and Thao's sister Sue is somewhat rescued by a gang of would be racists by Walt. Then there is a scene which changes everything. Thao and Sue's cousin's gang starts a ruckus on their front lawn as they intend to use force to persuade Thao to join their cause. The fight spills out onto Walt's lawn. Being an ex-military man, and having someone invade his own property Walt eventually takes action. A friendship then blossoms.
To me Gran Torino is about the elder population and there decline only in the eyes of people around them. Walt proves the man he was, is still the man he is. It is also about the ever growing mixing of cultures, yes in America, but also in my Australia and many many other countries. For me there is a reliance on tolerance, something Walt lived by, and not that of acceptance. But what most sticks out for me is the gang culture and how one man can help another if only for some guts, something Clint Eastwood's characters all swear by.
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