Home > Reviews > GRAN TORINO – Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens

GRAN TORINO – Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens

December 12, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Gran Torino is the second of Clint Eastwood’s films as director; this time he also stars, as grizzled, grumpy, racist former auto worker and Korean War vet Walt Kowalski, who having been recently widowed now spends his time sitting on his porch in suburban Detroit, growling at anyone who ventures on to his lawn, and generally being a disagreeable old bastard to his family and neighbors.

His one true love is his beloved 1972 Ford Gran Torino, which he has lovingly restored to its former glory – so, when his Hmong neighbor Thao (Bee Vang) attempts to steal it as part of a street gang initiation, Walt is understandably not very happy. However, it soon becomes clear that the bookish Thao is not really very interested in being a gangbanger, and gradually Walt and Thao form an unlikely friendship. However, as Walt gradually warms to the ‘gooks and chinks’ next door, which includes Thao’s fiery and spirited sister Sue (Ahney Her), he also begins to run afoul of the street gang, who want to maintain control of their turf and their community.

The score for Gran Torino is by Eastwood’s son Kyle Eastwood and his regular musical collaborator Michael Stevens; the pair previously worked together on Clint’s film Letters from Iwo Jima, and contributed to several other Eastwood movies in recent years. There are basically two types of music in the film: the jazzy piano main theme which, unsurprisingly, features prominently in the opening “Gran Torino Credits” where it is often backed by solo guitar and plucked bass, although it does rise to brief fully orchestral heights in the quite lovely “Father/Son Phone Call”.

The other element of the score is the stark, percussive music which generally accompanies Walt’s encounters with the Hmong street gang, in cues such as “Son of a Bitch” and Broken Gnome” before reaching its zenith in the quite dramatic “Confrontation, Bro”.

The Golden Globe-nominated song “Gran Torino” is based on the main theme from the film, and features a truly indescribable vocal performance by Clint Eastwood, who sounds like he smoked 500 Marlboros and ate a pound of gravel before recording his part. Thankfully, when English singer Jamie Cullum’s smooth jazz tones take over the song becomes much more palatable; a lazy, crooned melody which has a laid-back Vegas feel and dream-like lyrics. The score album for Gran Torino is not available commercially, and instead can only be found on a short 20-minute promo album, which should be fairly easy to acquire on the secondary market.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Gran Torino Credits (0:51)
  • Son of a Bitch (1:32)
  • Wax A Car (1:15)
  • Broken Gnome (1:42)
  • Confrontation, Bro (1:31)
  • Father/Son Phone Call (1:18)
  • Gangster Beatdown (1:47)
  • Drive-By (1:53)
  • Sue is Injured (2:27)
  • The Fall (0:59)
  • Gran Torino (written by Clint Eastwood, Jamie Cullum, Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens, performed by Clint Eastwood and Jamie Cullum) (6:00)

Running Time: 21 minutes 15 seconds

Promo (2008)

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