Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA/Germany/Australia, 2008. Matten Productions, Double Nickel Entertainment, Gerber Pictures, Malpaso Productions, Village Roadshow Pictures, WV Films IV, Warner Bros.. Story by Dave Johannson, Nick Schenk, Screenplay by Nick Schenk. Cinematography by Tom Stern. Produced by Clint Eastwood, Bill Gerber, Robert Lorenz. Music by Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens. Production Design by James J. Murakami, Phill Zagajewski. Costume Design by Deborah Hopper. Film Editing by Joel Cox, Gary Roach. American Film Institute 2008. Golden Globe Awards 2008. National Board of Review Awards 2008. New York Film Critics 2008.
Nobody can top the power that is Eastwood; the man is 1500 years old if he’s a day and he’s still the scariest cat out there. On top of that, he adds another classic to his body of work with this exceptional drama about the sacrifices made in an effort to make the world a better place. Eastwood plays an aging widower who is haunted by his memories of serving in Korea, memories that come to him with racist fervour as he laments the influx of Chinese immigrants living in his neighbourhood. He proudly styles himself the mean old man on the block until a couple of nasty circumstances put the son and daughter of his next-door neighbours in his way and he grows a sincere attachment to them. It’s a great ride with plenty of gut-wrenching drama and even a few thrills, but what really surprises is the genuine comedy that comes out of the main character’s orneriness; this man is prejudiced, and not in the soft and fuzzy As Good As It Gets way, yet his co-stars see the big heart beating beneath his dirty mouth and from their tolerance comes a healthy bout of comedic interplay. It’s an outstanding piece of work, fueled by the amazing performance at its lead, a highly appealing supporting cast and some pristine writing, plus it has the calm and cool feel that marks the photography and editing of Eastwood’s best work.