The Mule- directed by Clint Eastwood
The Mule - dir. Clint Eastwood
By Darren Cunningham – Bond Library film reviewer
Clint Eastwood has been directing films since the very early 1970’s. Brought to prominence as a star in the late 60’s with the classic Sergio Leone Man With No Name western trilogies, Eastwood helmed his first film as director in 1971 with Play Misty For Me, in which he also starred. A contemporary psycho thriller about a DJ stalked by an obsessed female fan, which the popular Glenn Close and Michael Douglas late 80’s thriller Fatal Attraction mirrored. Misty was a hit and Eastwood has donned his directors cap pretty much as many times he has appeared in films, not all of them directed by him. Eastwood has an easy going and languished style of directing and he understands his craft to the fullest. With this latest offering, The Mule has shaped up to be one of his best since Gran Torino – 08’.
Inspired by a true tale\incident, Eastwood plays Earl Stone, a man just reached 90 and whose nursery business is going bust, no thanks to technology. Earl hasn’t been all that invested in his family due to his horticulture hobby, preferring to be a loner when not attending Orchid conventions and showing off his prize species. Wanting a quick fix for cash, Earl accepts an offer to be a courier by a shady looking character at his granddaughter’s engagement party and unbeknownst to what the cargo is, he accepts the ask-me-no-questions and I’ll-tell-you-no-lies scenario, and goes along on his merry way with the assignment. Earl completes his quest, gets his fiscal reward, gets offered another delivery, and starts to get enthused about the quick and easy buck he is making, some of this also spurred on by a dash of greed.
Of course, Earl’s curiosity does get the better of him and this is where moral and ethical issues start to raise their concerns. Earl’s initial intention of being a naive delivery boy with ignorant bliss is suddenly transformed into self-awareness and his own desire to continue. Hot on the Mexican cartel’s trail, are the DEA wanting to make a bust for their own purpose of existence, with Earl inadvertently flying under their radar and deliberately over the cartels. Earl’s family are also confused about his new persona and enigma of character, leading to further frustration for them.
The Mule makes for intriguing viewing and skilfully balances the scenarios of all interested parties in the narrative and portrays their humanistic\flawed sides without passing judgement. Earl himself, is somewhat an embittered old man, but his experiences have also emboldened him and despite his own actions, could also be considered courageous. One amusing aspect of Earl is that he doesn’t possess much of a filter. He is a genuine creature and affects the lives of many that he encounters. Within the framework of an entertaining feature, The Mule shows us life and the opportunities it presents; its pitfalls, heartbreaks and ultimately how the choices chosen attract consequences - the experiences that define us.
In the Library - display shelf - DVD MUL