Assumption, it’s been said, is the mother of all fuck-ups. And as if to prove this truisim, I offer you Martin Cuff and the avoidance of the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino. You see, I assumed that this was a film about Nascar – Days of Thunder meets Stallone in Driven. Scraggly old Clint posing in a jumpsuit. That kind of thing. So I’d avoided it entirely. Which, as it turns out, was a fuck-up of monumental proportions.
Gran Torino is in fact a compelling drama. It’s a unique polemic that touches on ageism and generational dissonance, the inevitable growing pains as white America transforms under the melting pot of immigration, of dysfunctional families, the scourge of gang violence, casually entrenched racism and sexism, and the dangerous disaffection of youth of all colours and creeds. It filmed in Detroit, Michigan – Walt’s home is on Rhode Island Street, east of Woodward in Highland Park – the decline of which has been written about extensively, and is kind of symbolic of the grand gut-wrenching social upheavals happening in and to the American heartlands. Art imitating life, then.
But Gran Torino is funny too; some cracking, gasp-worthy dialogue scours the mouths of the grumpy, tell-it-straight Pole (played by Eastwood) and his Hmong neighbours. The lippy, wise-ass, brutally candid daughter Sue – played by newcomer Ahney Her – is stand out.
So all in all, riveting is a word that comes to mind; it’s like watching an impending car crash at a familiar intersection. Which is a total red herring: the Gran Torino does not crash, in fact it doesn’t even race. It is a must-see though.