Gran Torino

  • Directors: Clint Eastwood
  • Producers: Clint Eastwood, Bill Gerber, Robert Lorenz
  • Writers: Screenplay, Nick Schenk, Story, Dave Johannson, Nick Schenk
  • Genres: Crime, Drama
  • Actors: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang

Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), a retired Polish American Ford automobile assembly line worker and Korean War veteran, haunted by memories of that conflict, lives with his Labrador Retriever Daisy in a changing Highland Park, Michigan neighborhood which is dominated by immigrants. At the start of the movie, Walt is attending his wife’s funeral, bristling at the shallow eulogy of young Father Janovich (Christopher Carley). Similarly, he has little patience with his two sons, Mitch (Brian Haley) and Steve (Brian Howe), and their families, who show little regard for Walt’s grief or the memory of their dead mother. Throughout the movie Walt views his relatives as rude, spoiled and self-absorbed, always avoiding him unless it is in their own interest to pay him some attention. Walt’s sons see him as “always disappointed” with them and their families, unaware of their own obnoxiousness.

Walt’s teenage Hmong neighbors, a shy Thao Vang Lor (Bee Vang) and his feisty sister Sue (Ahney Her), live with their widowed mother and grandmother. When a Hispanic gang confronts Thao, the Hmong gang, led by Thao’s older cousin Spider (Doua Moua), helps Thao by frightening the Hispanic gang and forcing them to flee. The Hmong gang, at that point, tries to persuade Thao to join them. Thao’s initiation is to steal Walt’s prized car, a 1972 Gran Torino Sport. Walt interrupts the robbery, pointing a rifle in Thao’s face and forcing him to flee. After a few days, Spider and his gang return. With Sue at his side, Thao manages to verbally confront them to no avail. The gang drags Thao off his porch in an attempt to assault him. His family tries desperately to fend off Spider and his cohorts. The conflict ends when Walt threatens the gang members with his M1 Garand rifle and orders them to get off his lawn. They leave the neighborhood, telling Walt to watch his back.

A funeral service is held for Walt with Father Janovich delivering a memorable eulogy of Walt. Thao and his family attend the funeral opposite Walt’s large extended family. In his will, Walt leaves his house to the church, and his Gran Torino to Thao, much to the disappointment and puzzlement of his family. In the final scene, Thao is driving the Gran Torino up Lake Shore Road with Daisy next to him.