I'm really struggling to write this review. I'm struggling because every time I watch this movie I find myself a little choked up. I'm struggling because I'm not sure just exactly how I can explain my love for this movie.
One of my old flatmates used to complain because all of the movies I owned had a certain theme to them in her mind. I only seemed to watch triumphant movies, where after initial struggles the main character (or team in the case of sports movies) would come good. And to be fair to her, she was partly right.
I love watching movies where the faults and flaws of the individual end up getting resolved. To me it shows the idea that redemption is possible in everything. You can be a crotchety old man, with a racist mean streak, as Eastwood is in Gran Torino, yet still learn that not everyone is exactly who you think they are. People will always surprise you and many times do, or be, the exact opposite of what you expect.
I love the development of the characters in this movie. Everything is so simple, yet so incredibly believable - which is particularly remarkable when you consider that so few of these actors had been in a movie before this one. Eastwood is unbelievable - how he didn't get another Oscar nomination for this movie I will never ever understand.
His character here reminds me of Mr Fredricksen in Up, unable to cope with the difficulties of living in the modern world - or at least perceived that way by all around him. Everything seems to be different from what it was before, yet his life stays remarkably static. Yet it is entirely apt that he warms to the next door neighbours, particularly as they show respect for both themselves and for him.
Perhaps the only slight downfall in the movie is the nastiness of his own kids. I don't understand how any children brought up in the environment that Eastwood's character provided for them would end up the way they did. I just don't think their selfishness would fit with the way in which Eastwood would want them to be - perhaps if he had been absent from their lives then maybe, but in this movie it just doesn't quite fit.
All in all this is well inside my Top 10 movies of all time, and perhaps is even sniffing around the top spot. Beautifully made, beautifully told and beautifully acted.