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(Review originally written at 22 August 2009)

Well, in all honesty the concept of this movie doesn't sound to likely or compelling. I mean an old tough and racist Korea war veteran who becomes friends with- and mild with his Korean neighbors sounds more like a sappy made for TV drama than a powerful and likely one. But Clint Eastwood has of course surprised us before in the past with his directing capacities and surprises yet again with "Gran Torino", in which he also plays the main character himself this time.

The movie does mostly work out due to Clint Eastwood. Not just thanks to his directing skills but also not in the least thanks to his acting. He basically plays a character that he has played some many things throughout his career before, only difference is those characters were much younger and more fit. He makes the character and movie as a whole believable and also real compelling. He dares to show his age, like he had already also done before in the past, for instance like "In the Line of Fire". You really believe that this tough all American character gets more accessible and friendly, after he goes through a great ordeal of changes and tragedies himself. It makes the story and character and everything that happens within the movie all very easy to grasp.

You can say that this movie is a character movie but it also works on so many more levels. The movie features lots of themes in it, such as violence and racism but also love. It makes "Gran Torino" a very broad, surprising and unexpected great movie to watch. This all comes together at the end of the movie, which was real suiting in my opinion, though some people find it a bit disappointing or have some other problems with it.

The story and movie does a good job at finding its right balance. The movie never becomes too sappy, even though at times it shows some tendencies of becoming so, and it never becomes anything too unlikely but also not without some humor. It's an honest but also very straight-forward made movie that show things as they are and doesn't try to let things look better or worse . It's a very pure movie that also doesn't try to look fancy. Instead the movie is small and humble but close to life.

A simple and pure movie that is just so very compelling and powerful!

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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