Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho is a very Eastwood-ian movie, and if anyone else had made it, it probably wouldn’t have drawn me in. Eastwood, as both an actor and director, is always a draw, and at 91, the guy probably still has another few directorial outings left in him. As a filmmaker, he’s made some of my absolute favorites (Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River), and shoot, he even made Richard Jewell when he was 89. I probably won’t be able to form a sentence when I’m 89, if I live to be 89, and Eastwood made a movie as good as Richard Jewell. Impressive stuff.
As for Cry Macho, it’s very much an Eastwood movie, from its look to its feel- it seems like an ideal vehicle for him to not only direct, but star (which he does, despite retiring from acting twice). It also would’ve benefitted from being made 40 years ago. The film is an adaptation of a 1975 novel by N. Richard Nash, who is also a credited co-screenwriter. He has also been dead for over 20 years. Sure, it’s might not be fair to judge the film from its background, but the major issue with Cry Macho is that, I’m assuming, not much has really been changed from the source material. Which might be okay, and seeing as this has been a project that’s been kicked around for years, it’s great that it’s finally made it to the big screen. But it’s at times a bit jarring to see a 91 year old man in the situations that he’s in. The film is flawed, and considering how high the bar is for Eastwood is as a filmmaker, it’s a disappointment. As a movie though, there is some joy to be found, if you’re willing to go with it.
The film is set in 1979, and while the age of Eastwood’s Mike Milo isn’t revealed, we know he’s 91, which means in this film, Milo was born in 1888. Holy cow. Anyways, Milo is a former bull rider, and when the film opens, he arrives to work, and is fired for being late. The guy is 91 and still working, sheesh, respect your elders. Turns out his boss, Howard (Dwight Yoakam) and Mike have a past, and because of this, Howard asks Mike to travel to Mexico to pick up his estranged son, Rafo (Eduardo Minett), who is in the care of his mother, who is quite, um loco. Yoakam isn’t in the movie much, but when he is, it kind of sounds like he’s reading his lines. Also, not to nitpick (well, too late), but Howard couldn’t have asked… literally anyone other than a 91 year old to go get his son? This adds to the “the movie should’ve been made decades ago” thing. Having said that though, you can trust Eastwood with anything, no matter what age.
In returning a past favor, Milo sets off to Mexico. In doing so, he meets the boy’s mother (Fernanda Urrejola), who is an absolute nutbag. These scenes are… weird. She totally throws herself at Milo and is totally down to DTF (wait, I think she’d be totally down to… well, F. I screwed that up), and he rejects her. Seeing this all transpire with 91 year old Eastwood is… bizarre. Eastwood in his 50’s? Okay. Eastwood in his 90’s? Weird. Anyways, this chica goes totally loco (or is it loca?) and sends the federales after him. As it turns out though, Rafo, who met Mike the previous night at a cockfight, is in the backseat with his rooster, Macho. The two of them are at each other’s throats at first, but eventually form a bond as Mike decides to drive him back to his father.
So yes, the material would’ve benefitted from either casting someone younger, or being made long ago. There are also individual scenes that feel somewhat clumsy. Take a scene where Eastwood is going to pee in the middle of the desert, and his car is stolen. Rafo and Eastwood are right by the road, how did they miss that? There’s little things like that. The attempts to make the film a thriller also don’t really mesh. Naturally, a film should have a conflict, so that’s probably why these scenes are there, but honestly they felt like a distraction compared with the rest of the movie.
What I do like about Cry Macho is, with the exception of the fact that Rafo and Mike are on the run, the film mostly feels like a hangout movie. It’s quiet, and for some maybe meandering and aimless, yet I found the scenes between Eastwood and Minett enjoyable. From the scene where Mike finds him in the backseat and on, there is a certain spark that made the movie work… enough. I also like the scenes with Eastwood and Natalia Traven, who plays a nice woman who gives them shelter along the way. Traven is also way, way too young for 91 year old Eastwood, but I feel like by this point the movie had kind of found its footing. It’s essentially about two people who have both been dealt a rough hand, and are now finding peace and happiness. This aspect of the film worked for me… until near the end where the movie decides to be a thriller again, and it goes nowhere.
People aren’t really flipping for Cry Macho, and some have been crying uncle, instead. I’m not flipping for it either, necessarily, but what I like in it, I like in it. It’s uneven and it has its share of flaws, but Eastwood, even in a role that is suited for someone way younger, still has what it takes to carry a movie. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been this movie, but it’s always a pleasure to see him. Cry Macho might be an Eastwood film that the next one makes us forget, but it’s beautifully filmed and while it might not be much of a movie, it’s one that is watchable. So that’s something. It’s a minor Eastwood effort, but it is still a purely Eastwood effort, which is also something.