The Mule

One way and another I had been somewhat looking forward to this newest picture by Clint Eastwood; by which I mean that over the course of my life I believe I’ve seen everything he’s ever done, either as an actor or a director, which happens to b to be a serious shitload of an investment of time, and in some cases, of effort. Over time Eastwood has morphed from being a blue eyed, heart throb into well, a scrawny, cynical embittered old fucker. This is not a criticism, far from it, in these times, growing a skin like a rhinoceros and an attitude that regards phlegmatic as hopelessly innocent, is basically the only way to stay even halfway sane and functional. God knows I’ve kept pace with Mr Eastwood, on *all*fronts and *88*? No wonder the man has so little patience for fools.

The story of theMule is actually very simple, and it’s a pity there were no valuable prizes to be won for guessing what was going to happen next, since I had good success at this activity. I had the entire “Earl’s wife” sub-plot pretty much worked out in about ten seconds with the film catching up about twenty minutes later. As fun goes, I felt vindicated but I much prefer to be surprised. As it stands “The Mule” is a conventional film in the classic meaning of the word – it is a film that could easily have been made in 1974. It is shot and edited delightfully slowly like the classics of the time (Not a few of them directed by a much younger Clint Eastwood).

“The Mule.” is a rather stolid unadventurous potboiler that in the old days would have been made for TV. That said, the film has some genuine thrills, a couple of nasty moments and some suspense. It never failed to be at least somewhat interesting. I was rather sad that the political subtext of the film – “Mexican drug cartels bringing criminality into the god-fearing heartland of the United States and spreading their poison through our decent values”, could almost come from a script written by one of Donald Trump’s handlers. In truth I was surprised that the film didn’t take a moment to spruik a wall, or should I say, *the* wall? But to give him his due as a director, while Eastwood always wins over the squint eyed right-wing heartlanders, he always been canny enough to not go so far that he completely pisses off the intellectual elites. In truth I actually enjoyed the film albeit in a slightly superior left wing elite kind of way. I liked the way that the beginning and ends of the film were bookends for the whole frenetic schmozzle of the middle. But then placing the whole story onto the great wheel of karma is the kind of thing that *would* win over a left- leaning educated, tosspot like myself, and such is the talent of Eastwood, it certainly would not alienate any midwesterners either.

Down the track, I wouldn’t be surprised if the bloody thing won some kind of award.

(C) 2019, Alex Rieneck

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