Clint Eastwood needs to retire. While that is a dour way to tackle his latest and perhaps last film, the overwhelming weight of his age is felt in every frame. The Mule plays with age in a way that is meant to evoke sympathy and disarm skeptical audiences. Eastwood drops more epithets and dirty quips than most old people are allowed to say anymore. It’s a power fantasy for the slowly dying conservative male, but it will make the base perk up and smile in theaters. After all, they have a long movie to sit through.
Earl Stone is a former florist who can’t make time for his family. The guy’s busy winning floral awards and running that flower game to deal with his family. He blows off his daughter’s wedding and alienates his ex-wife. Now, his granddaughter is getting engaged and he’s trying to worm his way back into their lives. Remember, dear audience. It’s charming when Laurie Strode does it, but Clint Eastwood deserves your scorn! Did you hear what he called those lady bikers?!?
The film ultimately wants to build to you caring about Clint Eastwood realizing his miserly life was wasted. Does it earn the build to that moment? Of course not. Eastwood can’t commit to saying that any of his characters are wrong, but he’s a talented enough craftsman to get you to that point. It is vague enough for younger audiences to think they scored one on Grampy. While the older audience will feel bad for a man who couldn’t make time for his family.
No one will bother to slow down and examine the whole film until home video, but that’s 90 days away. For now, you’re going to read people of many persuasions making an argument for either side. They’re all wrong. The Mule is a film about the many death bed confessions we make in life. Live a shitty life and then ask for forgiveness near the end. Scam the system of societal codes in order to win favor at the end. Am I the only one that forgot Bradley Cooper was in the movie at points?
As I finish this piece off, I learned that Sondra Locke had died. I’m not one to believe in cosmic happenings or anything resembling karma, but irony is realer than real. One life ends, as an aging bitter old man wants to ruminate on a life misled. Most of Eastwood’s base has already forgotten about Locke, while her many fans will fondly remember Ratboy and Bronco Billy on social media and then never watch the films ever again.
We live in an odd time, people. An odd time where things like The Mule are getting released around Christmas time. I would say I’d bring this film up again, but somehow I don’t see The Mule staying in anyone’s memory.