At 91, four-time Academy Award-winning actor and director Clint Eastwood doesn’t show any signs of slowing down or exiting his director’s chair. The iconic filmmaker’s latest movie, Cry Macho, is a Western set in 1979 and focusing on Mike Milo (Eastwood), a washed-up rodeo star and horse breeder who’s pulled out of retirement to go on a special – and difficult – errand for his former boss, Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam). Mike’s mission is to cross the border and travel to Mexico City to retrieve Polk’s 13-year-old son, Rafo (Eduardo Minett), who’s run away from his mother and is living on the streets.
After crossing the border, Mike tracks down Rafo’s wealthy mother (Fernanda Urrejola) who describes her son as “wild” and reveals he’s gotten into cockfighting. Using this new intel, Mike’s able to track down Rafo at a cockfight.
Initially, Rafo’s insulting and defiant towards Mike. However, when he learns his father wants to bring him back home to Texas and make him a cowboy, Rafo becomes excited and agrees to go with this stranger as long as he can take his cockfighting rooster named Macho with him on the road trip.
The unlikely duo are forced to stick to back roads because they’re being hunted by Rafo’s mother’s thugs, thieves, and the Federales. It seems Rafo’s mother views her son as property that she doesn’t want anyone else to possess or take care of.
Unable to make a straight run for the border and facing car problems, Mike and Rafo take refuge in a dusty border town. They’re befriended by Marta (Natalia Traven), a restaurant owner who almost immediately finds Mike interesting and attractive. While staying under the radar, Mike uses the extra time with Rafo to teach him how to ride horses and even helps a local horse owner break in some wild mustangs. It’s during this time that Mike starts to re-evaluate his life and the choices he’s going to make from this point forward.
Charming although at times slow-moving, Cry Macho is a simple, straightforward neo-Western with stunning cinematography and an extremely effective reserved performance by Clint Eastwood. It’s Eastwood’s vision, control, and handling of the uncomplicated plot and the film’s characters that make the journey enjoyable.
Eastwood’s direction and the film’s cinematography are flawless, capturing the breathtaking beauty and ruralness of the Mexican landscape and the feel of the quiet desert border towns. Here’s hoping at Oscar time the film is nominated in both categories.
The only weak spot of the film is the performance delivered by Eduardo Minett as Rafo which often feels forced and staged. Minett has a few scenes where he delivers short speeches to Mike about his philosophy of life due to living on the street as well as how important it is to be “macho” or tough. It’s in these scenes where Minett fails to deliver any real emotion. It even appears as though he’s struggling to remember his lines.
Aside from that casting misstep, Warner Bros. Pictures’ Cry Macho is a poignant and delightful Western brought to life on the screen by a man who knows his way around the genre.
A Bit of Trivia: It’s interesting this story’s been around for about 50 years and was once considered a project for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Roy Scheider. Eastwood passed on the film originally back in the 1980s, believing he was too young to portray Mike Milo.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and language
Running Time: 1 hour 44 minutes
Release Date: September 17, 2021