Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gran Torino Redux

On further reflection on my prior musings on the distressingly orangutan-free Gran Torino, or perhaps by way of clarification to those musings, I think the best way to regard the Old Coot's situation is as that of a man suddenly shorn of his emotional armor. This is the substance of the film's central conflict, of which the protagonist's adjustments to post-1953 developments in race relations is only one interesting example.

The emotional armor is removed with the wife's death. Seen this way, Eastwood's character achieves a mixed success: he conspicuously fails to reconnect with his biological children, but does far better with his new family, making, by the end, the ultimate sacrifice for their good.

If it's true that art that wants to be true to life will eschew easy answers and resist tidy resolutions, the mixed outcome -- only partly sketched above -- shows why this film is worth viewing, whatever its flaws.

It's never too late to cut a "special edition" DVD packed with commentary, scenes that never made it past the studio chicken-shits, and, above all, hilariously flatulent, punch-throwing orangutans.

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