About half way through Gran Torino, I eased up a bit. I stopped trying to figure out why he made this film and just started to enjoy it. And I found it was enjoyable. It has been said that this will be Eastwood's final role. And if Eastwood wants to end his career with this film, then it seems fitting. Because it's impossible not to watch this film without referencing all his others. He has made a career out of his snarl. Out of his one-liners. And this movie is full of that. And the burden that his character Walter carries with him is not unlike the burden that Eastwood carries from all his roles. He has made a career out of being angry. Of being the man who does it his way. As Dirty Harry. Or the Man With No Name. He does it without guilt or shame. And now, as is true with all people, the man carries it with him. There's even a nod to Paint Your Wagon with Eastwood singing the final song.
There is a scene in particular that I would like to bring up. It's about three-fourths of the way through when Walter has just beat up one of the Hmong gang members. In retaliation, the gang shoots up the Hmong family house next door to Walter. In addition, they have raped the daughter, Sue. As she enters the house, bruised and bloodied, Walter is filled with rage. He stomps off, unable to provide comfort that doesn't come in the form of anger. It's natural to think that Walter's emotion is that of revenge. The film up until that point had explored Walter's newfound feelings towards the Lor family, especially towards the son Thao. But I think Walter's anger is directed at himself. If you're a parent, you know the love associated with that. A love greater than the love you share with your spouse. It's a scary love, because your children are your weakness. If you give yourself to them, there's a lot at risk. And risk like that is terrifying. This is what Walter feels at this moment. A love that he probably has never felt before. Not for his wife and certainly not for his children or their children. And he's angry because of that. I found this scene very touching because I have never experienced a scene that captured these feelings so well. And while Walter always seemed to have broken sentences to explain himself throughout the film, I was pleased to see that he was speechless for these few moments. And it was during these moments that I was reminded of how good a director Clint Eastwood can be.
At the end of the film, Walter has one final confrontation with the Hmong gang. He speaks to them with a snarl, but his mission is that of compassion. And it's fitting that he goes out in a blaze of glory - attempting to light a cigarette no less. It's as if to say to everyone in Hollywood, I've retired this jersey. Place it on a wall somewhere and no one better even fucking try to wear it ever again.