‘The Mule’ Film Review
The minor-key Clint Eastwood drama The Mule presents all that’s reassuring and restricting about the 88-year-old manager’s classical storytelling approach.
The Mule signifies Eastwood’s first starring role as 2012’s Trouble With The Curve ($49m globally ) and the very first time he is toplined one of his very own features since 2008’s Gran Torino ($270m). Fans will be interested when the movie opens December 14 at the united states and January 25 at the united kingdom, but The Mule’s slow-burn, melancholy narrative may retain this Warner Bros. release from being a major commercial player.
Eastwood plays Earl Stone, a Midwestern horticulturalist who’s so dedicated to his blossoms that he has failed and alienated all his family, including his ex-wife Mary (Dianne Wiest). However, with his company failing, and taxation looming, Earl receives an unexpected proposal: How could he feel about forcing cross-country to fall off packages in duffel bags? He will get substantial amounts due to his efforts, but he has to comply with his companies’ orders to the letter and he can not seem in the bags.
It becomes quickly clear that Earl has been hired for a drug lord, and one of The Mule’s more intriguing aspects is that elderly man does not really question the legality of the work. By Earl’s standpoint, bills will need to get paid, a granddaughter’s marriage has to be financed, and failing community associations may use the financial aid — as far as he is concerned, he is participating in a victimless offense.
That’s not the view shared with Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper), an ambitious Chicago DEA agent hoping to crack down with this cartel — if only he can find out who is transporting their medication. The Mule milks the irony of this cartel hiring an elderly white man with this task: Bates and his partner (Michael Peña) are so busy searching for young Mexicans that they never guess that this grizzled grandpa is their man.
Eastwood hasn’t stepped in the front of the camera considerably this century, and if he does he wishes to play last-of-a-dying-breed guys who are more virtuous than their younger cohorts. Such self-aggrandizement can be dull — especially in Gran Torino, in which the character’s xenophobia was treated as adorable — but in The Mule, Eastwood is significantly more critical of his protagonist, undercutting our sympathy with an acknowledgement of both Earl’s selfishness.
The film also demonstrates Earl’s white innocence allows him to navigate around law enforcement in ways that his Mexican counterparts cannot. There is an unspoken bitter juxtaposition coursing throughout the narrative: Earl has fouled his outstanding life through his own foolishness, although the lower-working-class cartel underlings around him have not had the chances he is thoughtlessly wasted.
To be certain, neither Earl’s narrative nor the investigation to ensnare him is particularly riveting. (And the supporting performances, such as from Andy Garcia as a drug kingpin, have a small authority to themwhen the functions are underwritten.)
As he gets near 90 himself, Eastwood viewpoints Earl as an almost tragic everyman who no longer recognizes his place in today’s world. Retaining the wry sense of humor and minimalist acting style that have survived over the past 60 years, Eastwood carries the movie’s topics gracefully enough — particularly the idea of an aged man coming into the conclusion of the proverbial road. And while this defiantly unflashy movie may similarly sense out of step, long on mawkishness and brief on dynamic, arresting minutes, the innocence of its softly mournful tone stays with you.