Clint Eastwood is America’s great humanist director at present, making eloquent calls for compassion in films like Million Dollar Baby, Letters From Iwo Jima and this year’s Changeling, but never at the expense of spinning a good yarn.

Gran Torino is a plea for racial tolerance but also a compelling story of friendship which lingers in the mind when the extravagances of Benjamin Button and Australia have faded from memory.

“As with Eastwood’s other recent films, the film is ultimately a tearjerker with a momentously moving finale. As Clint’s own gravelly voice starts up over the end credits singing the mournful title song, it’s genuinely sad to think we might not see him act again, but somehow fitting that he should bow out with Walt Kowalski.” — Screen International‘s Mike Goodridge, writing from London.