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Get off my lawn.


Gran Torino
(2008)

It's not guilty of being as wretchedly manipulative as Million Dollar Baby, but the power here comes from the assured, measured direction rather than the rather two-dimensional, clunky script (that said, Eastwood occasionally flails hopelessly, such as with the montage "Thao fixing things" sequence). 

It is less cathartic in its treatment of the consequences of violence than Unforgiven (and thus more honest as a "message" movie), but - if that film wants to have its cake and eat it - Unforgiven is nevertheless on every level more compelling, resonant and (as a piece of filmmaking) masterful. It's perhaps a problem that the focus shifts from Walt's relationship with Sue to that of the more introverted Thao, since the former has Eastwood interacting and the latter just didacting.

There are points here that are beautifully observed; Walt at the neighbours’ gathering, preoccupies himself with fixing a wobbling washer/dryer. Likewise, the opening scene in the church, with Walt's increasingly disgusted reaction to every member of his extended family's banal disinterest in the reason they are there, sets the scene for a film with much more depth than we end up getting (the best scenes involve Walt's reaction to his family; tellingly they tend to have very little dialogue). 


In contrast, the scene of Walt introducing Thao to his barber is just odd, foregrounding a strange self-conscious examination of the social behavioural patterns of the American male as transcending cultural and ethnic barriers. While I can buy that Walt is a smart guy who can effortlessly perform a character assassination on his local priest, the sort of character deconstruction he and his barber discuss doesn't really fit with the guy's entrenched beliefs displayed elsewhere.

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