Sunday, July 05, 2009

"Gran Torino" and "Le fils de l'├ępicier"

These two films may seem to have nothing in common. They do, however, because they were both watched here this weekend.

"Gran Turino" has been the # 1 selling DVD since it came out, with #2 far behind. Being in the Netflix queue is hopeless. An infrequent visit now to Hollywood Video was the only way to see it. What a painful and contorted throwback of a film. Walt, the upright, disaffected, and grim man of principle who is the main character, is a caricature of a person that in real life does not exist, the sort of play on Marvel Comics that Harry Callahan represented. His overt but shucks it don't mean nothing racism is pablum for some Eastwood fans. That said, the movie's realism when it comes to the lives of immigrants and their joined at the hip requirement to deal with gangs spawned within their own ethnic group is unsparing and toughly, almost too toughly to be entertainment, realistic. It's a film that needed to be seen, and it's so distinctly American that why not on the Fourth of July. The allegorical resolution is open to interpretation by all, we get the classic Eastwood style as well, and a few great takes on the old Harry. Sell those DVD's.

Now why would this French film, translated "The Grocer's Son", be discussed here as well, other than same weekend viewing. There's a reason. Both have as one of the central characters an early old age man who has lived his life working hard, not expecting to be entertained or be happy or to find any answers, just wanting to be a vital part of some community of like minded stubborn folks. Both are alienated from their adult children and have a not completely irrational inability to relate to 21'st century social values.

"The Grocer's Son" is a small film, pleasant, slow on the uptake but with an easy evolution into a charmer. Cut down by a stroke, the hardworking father stays bitter, stays almost to the point of death by depression, until the acceptance of defeat, or it should be called love, pulls him through.

These are two completely different films. You will only once read anything that discusses them together. The cultural difference in the exaggerated resolutions, however, is something to think about, one so harsh, the other so humane.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Gran Turino

"Both are alienated from their adult children and have a not completely irrational inability to relate to 21'st century social values."

What are 21'st century social values?

3:17 PM  

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