The Mule is another gem and Eastwood, a national treasure, says Rashid Irani
Clint Eastwood deserves to be declared a national treasure for his sterling contribution to American cinema over six decades, and here he proves that once again.
Facing the camera for the first time since Gran Torino (2008), the indefatigable 88-year-old plays an old horticulturist who has always put work over family. Then he starts to go broke, and his bonds with that family — an estranged ex-wife (Dianne Wiest), a daughter (Eastwood’s own daughter, Alison) and a granddaughter (Taissa Farmiga) — begin to hit new lows.
Desperate, he agrees to act as a drug runner for a Mexican cartel. His age makes him less conspicuous on the roads; it’s good money and he figures he won’t need to keep at it too long.
Then a high-ranking DEA official (Bradley Cooper) gets wind of his transports and starts trying to track this mule. In one of the film’s many evocative scenes, the two men are seated together at a local Waffle House, both waiting. They chat, casually, the DEA officer not realising this is the man he’s been pursuing all along.
The movie is inspired by a true story recounted in The New York Times. The elegiac narrative unfolds in the filmmaker’s signature no-frills style. He remains one of the most succinct storytellers in the business.
As an actor, Eastwood delivers a poignant portrait of a flawed husband and father desperately seeking redemption. Watching him play this 90-year-old, tired, old and struggling, you can’t help but wonder, will this be Eastwood’s swan song? If so, what a way to go.