Walt Kowalski is a widower who holds onto his prejudices despite the changes in his Michigan neighborhood and the world around him. Kowalski is a grumpy, tough-minded, unhappy an old man, who can’t get along with either his kids or his neighbors, a Korean War veteran whose prize possession is a 1972 Gran Torino he keeps in mint condition. When his neighbor Thao, a young Hmong teenager under pressure from his gang member cousin, tries to steal his Gran Torino, Kowalski sets out to reform the youth. Drawn against his will into the life of Thao’s family, Kowalski is soon taking steps to protect them from the gangs that infest their neighborhood. link
- Why do you think Kowalski stayed in his neighborhood when all of his neighbors had moved to the suburbs?
- Perhaps the hardest part to stomach of Gran Torino is the repeated use of racial slurs. Do you think Kowalski was a racist?
- The miscommunication between Kowalski and his sons was epic. Based on what is presented in the movie, what would be some steps the son could have taken to re-open the lines of communication?
- What changed Kowalski’s opinion of his Hmong neighbors?
- When confronted with the priest, Kowalski closed the door on his because he was too young to comprehend what Kowalski was going through. Should the priest have honored his parishner’s wishes, tried harder, or done the same as was presented in the movie?
- Kowalski fathered Thao in a way that he didn’t his own children. Why?
- The Hmong people celebrated Kowalski as a hero. Was he a hero, a vigilante, or a nutcase?
- Which character was more righteous, Kowalski or the priest?
- When Kowalski finally goes to confession, he confesses that he kissed a woman at a cocktail party and that he wasn’t a good father. Do you think there were other burdens that he needed to confess?
- Kowalski’s actions helped one family in a tough neighborhood. What action could you take to make a change in your nieghborhood?
- Ultimately, Kowalski embraced his Hmong neighbors, mentored the boy next store, and helped them seek justice where justice could not be found. What does that teach us about our individual responsibilities in the hood we live in?
- Which character represented the person you’d like to be. Why?
- Which character exhibited the type of faith you’d like to exhibit in your life?
- What do you think happened in the neighborhood after the story ends?