The Mule: The Return of the King Clint Eastwood (review)

The Mule: The Return of the King Clint Eastwood (review)

The director creates a very personal film where it is no longer about the legend, but just about the man. Clint is back.

While waiting to discover the first images of his next film, Juror #2with Toni Collette and Nicholas Hoult, France 3 will broadcast this evening The muleof Clint Eastwood. A drama that Première really liked when it was released at the beginning of 2019. Here is our review.

Clint Eastwood, 93, has a banana on the set of his latest film

After Gran Torino (and despite his appearance in the drama A new chance), we were sure we would never see Clint on the big screen again. His recent productions had left us speechless and, at Première, we even ended up mourning (artistically) the man who was one of the greatest masters of American cinema. Surprise. In January 2018, we learned that he was going to shoot and above all play the true story of Leo Sharp (Earl Jones in the film), an 80-year-old horticulturist who, cornered by financial problems, had decided to become a mule for the Mexican cartels. Because the cops didn't think that an old man behind the wheel of a pick-up could transport dozens of kilos of cocaine, Sharp managed to make multiple trips to both sides of the border and earn a lot of money. The oldest mule in history ended up being arrested in 2011 and sent to prison in 2014, spending only a year behind bars before dying in 2016. It is this story, until the trial, that Eastwood directs. And from the start, in front of the first images of the film, the effect of reality is striking. Clint is old. Not aging, not damaged. In ruins. He knows it and he plays with it. The time to love and the time to mature are long gone. You will say and Gran Torino ? But Eastwood donned the trappings of the bastard and vengeful Clint to play a new variation around redemption based on his avenger character. Today, there is no longer any question of reviving the popular icon. By dropping the mask that he had never really left until then (except in a few sequences of Found guilty or Million Dollar Baby), Eastwood shows a completely different face, unrecognizable, which we want to take for the real thing.

In The mulehe takes up the theme of redemption, as well as that of father-daughter trauma, these two subjects which have irrigated his cinema for at least three decades (The tightrope, Full powers, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby). But what this film really draws, like no other, is its confrontation with death, this moment when the damage can no longer be repaired and where regrets are engraved on the graves. Here, we often have the impression that Eastwood is settling old scores with himself, blurring for the last time and absolutely the boundary between his role and his life. Hence the fact that this old man's Stations of the Cross (“It's worth what it's worth, but I'm sorry for everything I've done”) also functions as a medley of his film.

We come across a biker gang (Eastwood obsession of the 70s); a shot resumes the opening of The Showdown ; the family scenes are reminiscent of Million Dollar Baby ; the relationship between the cop (played by Bradley Cooper) and the grandpa dealer evokes that between the character of Clint and that of Costner In A perfect world… But his Earl Jones is so far removed from the Eastwoodian characters that we have the sensation of seeing a terminal image of the Eastwood man. We have known for a long time (Josey Wales outlaw) that it is in the films where he puts himself on stage that Clint reveals himself the most. These little masterpieces function like so many self-portraits where nuances and ambiguities previously invisible are revealed each time. But in this register, The mule is more than just another testamentary road trip; more than a new portrait of a loser showing off his flaws. Because Clint no longer has time to write his legend or play with the myth. The mule shows the tears and wrinkles of a man who no longer has the anxiety of growing old, but the fear of dying. And the film almost feels like a letter of apology to his daughters and his exes. Eastwood is naked.

Honkytonk Man, Gran Torino, Cry Macho… Clint Eastwood's perpetual farewell

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