You’ll need the subtitles for early dialogue involving Clint Eastwood (“Walt”), who grumbles his way through the opening. Eastwood plays a widower in a changing neighborhood, trying to come to grips with mortality and sins of his past. He rebuffs the offers of confession from the parish priest, who was told to look after him by his wife. Eastwood’s views on religion might make a few bristle, and his racially-charged utterances certainly make you queasy at first.
As the film progresses, he begins to wrestle the demons within related to his service in the Korean War and his estranged sons. Walt becomes a hero to the neighborhood as he protects his next-door neighbors (at first, just an act of self-preservation). The dialogue is crisp, and you can’t help but like the youngsters next door “Toad” and “Sue.” It’s another fine performance from Eastwood, who weaves a brilliant tale of a man clinging to and avoiding the past at the same time — as demonstrated through the love of a “Gran Torino.”