Cry Macho: The search for meaning

Daniel Ketchelos—Staff Writer

Finding the sincere parts of life is the premise behind Clint Eastwood’s latest release, Cry Macho. The 91-year-old filmmaker’s latest project features Clint Eastwood as a washed-up rodeo star who is hired to find his boss’s estranged son in Mexico.

Set in 1979, the film opens with scenes of open-range Texas vistas and introduces the audience to Mike Milo (Clint Eastwood) who is in a tense meeting with his rodeo manager, Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam). Howard Polk proceeds to fire Mike for not being valuable due to his old age. 

The film then cuts to a year later with Howard waiting at Mike’s house with a job offer. Mike accepts the job to find Howard’s estranged son, Rafo (Eduardo Minett), who is living on the streets in Mexico City, Mexico. Mike then shows up at Howard’s ex-wife, Leta’s (Fernanda Urrejola) mansion in the heart of Mexico City. Leta then confronts Mike for trying to take her son back to Texas and warns him that Rafo is a drunkard and dangerous criminal. Mike eventually finds Rafo and his prized cockfighting rooster, Macho, and he agrees to go back to Texas to meet his father Howard.  

The rest of the film follows Mike and Rafo’s dangerous journey back to Texas where they encounter many setbacks in the backroads of Mexico. Leta’s bodyguard is on the hunt for Mike and Rafo, the Federales (Mexico’s Police Force) are searching for the pair, and natural conflict prevents their return to Texas. 

The main theme of Cry Macho is not established until well into the second act of the film. Mike and Rafo’s “borrowed” car breaks down in a small village where they learn to appreciate the small aspects of life. These scenes offer a glimpse into a life of redemption for Mike and a real home for Rafo to settle down in. Rafo learns to step away from the pursuit of Machosim, and Mike finds a new friend to keep him company. The overarching theme of Cry Macho is to leave behind a life trying to prove strength and manliness for peace and enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures.

Cry Macho’s tone is a far cry from Clint Eastwood’s previous films. His last film, The Mule, featured Eastwood as an oblivious driver for transporting drugs, where Cry Macho focuses more on small emotions and a slower timeline. Many of the scenes are beautifully shot and have slow pacing for more intimate moments. This is a change in direction from Eastwood’s other projects where fast-paced and high-action scenes direct the film. 

Cry Macho doesn’t hit all the marks. The opening scene with Mike and Howard relies too much on expositional dialogue where information is fed directly to the audience. The film would be much stronger if more visual storytelling replaced the on-the-nose dialogue. The film’s ending also felt rushed and awkward featuring a showdown between Mike and Leta’s bodyguard. Little danger was present in this scene and it felt out of place considering the way the rest of the film had progressed. 

Clint Eastwood’s old age of 91 hasn’t stopped him from adding to his filmography. Granted, it is somewhat strange seeing Eastwood in his 90s punch someone in the face on the big screen. His part as Mike brought a more somber and gentle character to his portfolio while still maintaining the western cowboy flare he is most well-known for. 

While Cry Macho is a step away from the traditional filmmaking of Eastwood, many moments are enjoyable and different enough to warrant a viewing. Diehard Eastwood fans may consider this piece as a bit of an outlier, but the average moviegoer may find it enjoyable. Overall rating of 6.5/10. 

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