An incredibly easy, slow-burn watch that not only serves as legacy piece for Eastwood, but also clearly serves as a vehicle for him to accept and comment on his known persona and old age. Whilst the Cry Macho isn’t particularly remarkable in its plot presentation, central character relationship and tension building, it has enough charm and solid technical prowess to carry it along.
Written by Jack Ransom
Allegedly director/star Clint Eastwood’s final film. Cry Macho sees a one-time rodeo star and washed-up horse breeder (Clint Eastwood) takes a job to bring a man's (Dwight Yoakam) young son (Eduardo Minett) home and away from his alcoholic mother (Fernanda Urrejola). On their journey, the horseman finds redemption through teaching the boy what it means to be a man.
The road trip formula is incredibly familiar and ticks off all of the boxes. Evading pursuers, working around police blockades, stopping off at small towns and, of course, teaching each other life lessons. Though structurally and tonally dissimilar, I couldn’t help being reminded of The Old Man & the Gun (starring the legendary Robert Redford, who shortly before its release, announced his retirement from acting), where a layer of the lead’s legacy was sprinkled over the narrative and adds a semi-autobiographical element to the proceedings.
From a technical perspective the film gets the job done, nothing stylistically standout or groundbreaking, just straightforward “meat and potatoes” filmmaking. There are frequently nice shots of the Mexican landscape (especially at night) and the use of shadows and natural lighting make for some genuinely haunting and entrancing shots when necessary. The country twang and melancholic slow rhythms also perfectly fit the atmosphere.
Eastwood’s gruff, blunt and jaded stereotypical persona is on display here and the role itself isn’t anything particularly new (especially for him). However his withered, skeletal frame and frequent disregard of the masculine, hard edged persona that once defined his career effectively conveyed. He does still manage to find a reason to include a scene where a woman around 50 years younger than him immediately wants to bed him, but thankfully it’s not as bizarre and awkward as in The Mule. Luckily the relationship he finds with the kind hearted widow Marta (played wholesomely by Natalia Traven) has some very schmaltzy, yet good spirited moments. Though he is clearly trying hard, unfortunately the teen who accompanies Eastwood, doesn’t deliver in the dramatic moments, and makes a few of the scenes come off as cringe inducing and clunky.
Cry Macho is a suitably enjoyable last ride for Eastwood (if that does turn out to be the case). The easy-going, simplistic nature of the story, the well shot locations and toned down, yet still sharp lead performance from Eastwood and the kindly nature of the family he and the boy befriend do make it worth a watch. However the cliched narrative, overly-sentimental beats and a few filler feeling sequences are undeniably apparent.