Like most Clint Eastwood films, Gran Torino takes its time. It never feels rushed, though unlike say Changeling it does not feel overlong. Perhaps the difference is Clint hamming it up infront of the camera, no matter how craggy (and he is craggy alright) he is still a fascinatingly charismatic actor. We know he is a solid director, and a pretty fair script writer. Perhaps his editing could be tighter, but as you sit luxuriating in the clever inevitability and meta commentary of the film on Clint’s whole career you feel he has the right to use this extra time. And just as the film has worked it manipulative magic on you and the credits start to come up, Clint starts singing. And you find your body is so relaxed by the film that it is difficult to get up and run out of the cinema as fast as you need to, Because, well, Clint isn’t a very good singer is he?

Not to go all Tanya on you, but when Clint sang “I Talk To The Trees” in Paint Your Wagon, you could tell why they weren’t listening. And while Clint can knock together a passable jazz score to his own (and indeed someone elses) films, he never had the greatest of singing voices. And that was before his voice had been reduced to the scariest of grunts he does all the way through Gran Torino. None of which prepares you for his closing credits song.

Clint seems pretty prolific at the moment, two films in the last year is a pretty big strike rate. But watching Gran Torino you can tell the majority of its charm is in Clint subverting a stereotype, and playing with the vigilante macho role that he basically invented. Its an easy film for him to make, and what looks like quite a fun one too. And it can’t have been too hard to find the locations. Perhaps it is a little too cosy (despite its drive-bys) to really make its point forcefully, the economic deprivations of Detroit feel more of a backdrop than the reasons behind the problems displayed. But Clint never forgets he is having his cake and eating it, bestowing his racists misanthrope with just enough twinkly charm for you to forgive his excesses, and to make the audience complicit in both his racism but his violence. Its cleverer than it feels, but then that’s because it all feels a bit too cosy, which should never be the case for a vigilante film. And the other cast iron rule. Don’t let the director sing the theme tune.

This theme tune. I put it here for completeness sake. Beware if you click through.

You are better of with “I Talk To The Trees”