Darren’s World of Entertainment
July 11, 2014
Continuing my deep dive into some of the New Zealand International Film Festival titles playing this year, here’s a review of another three movies as we get ready for the Auckland leg of the festival.
The Mule is a particularly pertinent piece, given that we keep hearing about drugs mules and of course, Schapelle Corby.
Based on true events, it’s the story of Ray, an Aussie simpleton, played by Angus Sampson (who also directs) who headed to Thailand in 1983 and was co-erced into bringing back a stomach full of cocaine at the behest of a mate and indirectly a local drugs kingpin (played with cruel veneer byFringe star John Noble).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, things don’t pan out so well for Ray when he heads back from Bangkok and a decision at the airport throws him directly into the paths of two detectives, chiefly led by Hugo Weaving’s detective, determined to use the naive and gullible Ray to bring down the bad guys once and for all.
So, holed up in a hotel near the airport, they all decide to sweat it out – and wait for nature and the inevitable to takes it course…..
There’s tension aplenty in this simmering tale of oafs, corruption and heroin.
Sampson and fellow director Tony Mahony have pulled together a drama that soaks in the Aussie nostalgia from the time (the America’s Cup forms a bonzer part of the background) and yet is a timeless piece of corruption, drugs and gangsters.
If Sampson impresses as a gormless Ray, navigating his way through life through a pair of big rubbery lips and trying to survive a week in hotel hell, there’s also kudos for John Noble as the gangland kingpin and Aussie rugby club benefactor who’s so instrumental in Ray being in the situation he’s in; Hugo Weaving also turns in a good solid turn as a cop determined to get his man – from under a mass of moustache and brash belching.
Stand out scenes from the drama include Ray’s attempts to get through the Aussie airport without cracking – a setting that’s been mined for years on the likes of Border Patrol but feels fresh and heartbreaking thanks to the tense simplicity it’s shot with and how one moment changes his life forever. Perhaps the one that will stay with the audience though culminates after a grimy bed-ridden stand off against nature when Ray’s captured by the cops and told to sweat it out – literally. Those Trainspotting type bed antics end in a scene that will see the audience a little uncomfortable in many ways – as well as regretting any earlier decisions to eat before the movie.
Loyalty, corruption, drugs, the America’s Cup, gangs, hapless mules and a great payoff- it’s all in The Mule.