In The Mule, Clint Eastwood plays a 90-year-old guy who has a hard time getting along with the world.
That’s not a stretch for this most recognizable rasp of a voice and mug, not in age nor familiar storyline.
In this true tale directed by Eastwood himself from a screenplay Nick Schenk based on the New York Times story The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule by Sam Dolnick, Eastwood sits behind the wheel of his pickup truck as one crusty grandpa by the name of Earl Stone. (In real life, the guy who little by little hauled more and more dope was named Leo Sharp, and we can only wonder how much Dirty Harry he had in him.)
He’s already set ablaze all of his family ties by habitually never being there not only when he was needed, but, just about ever. His wife knows he’s good for nothing. His daughter won’t talk to him. But, wait. Even though he’s about to stiff her on his promise to pay for the open bar at her wedding, his granddaughter holds one one small part of her heart to old hard-headed Earl.
Enter an opportunity to make a load of cash for just driving his beater truck to and from a location. He barely knows it’s for shady folks doing something on the wrong side of the law. That big envelope full of cash lets him for once make his end of the deal with his granddaughter.
On it goes, one more haul at a time, one more smile and mending of ways with the other women in his life as he learns about himself, and, maybe, them. Hard lessons, these.
Eastwood is Clint.
The story has, as you’d expect, rough edges.
Eastwood entertains with this role as he has with many over the decades. Think particularly 2008’s Gran Torino and its pot-holed road to reclamation.
When Earl gets his due, he takes it and still smells the flowers. Sad, life can be, for sure, but onward one goes.