Clint Eastwood is still making movies at 91 years old. God bless him. Given my past lifestyle, I doubt I’ll make it to 91. But if I do? I hope I’m like Clint and still doing something I love.
Eastwood’s most recent film effort finds him starring, directing, and producing. Although Warner Brothers has been marketing Cry Macho as a western, it really isn’t. Eastwood’s character Mike Milo wears a cowboy hat and is referred to as a cowboy, but most of the action involves cars and remote Mexican towns circa 1979.
Eastwoods’ Mike is a former rodeo star and horse trainer, but little of this is literally demonstrated in the movie. There is some visual reference, but for the most part the story has little to do with horses or cowboys.
Mike is convinced by an old friend, Howard Polk (well played by country music veteran Dwight Yoakam), to venture to Mexico on his behalf. Once there, he is to find Polk’s 13-year-old son who he hasn’t seen in many years. Mike is to then convince that boy to come live with his father in Texas. Polk says he had stayed away from his son Rafo due to his ex-wife’s mental problems, but now wants to make up for lost time with his son. The boy’s mother is played with fire by Fernanda Urrejola.
Reminded of past favors, Mike reluctantly accepts the assignment and heads for the border. Eastwood is in his element as an actor and director. Mike is a gruff old cuss, which is the type of role Eastwood plays best. He’s not afraid to swear at kids and get in fist fights with anyone who gets in his way.
Rafo is nicely played by Eduardo Minett, a relative newcomer to English-language films. He is a confused kid who just wants to be loved. He’s never felt love from his off-kilter mother and his father has been missing from his life almost all the years there have been to share. Until Mike comes along, Rafo’s only friend is a cock fighting rooster named Macho, who accompanies the odd duo on their quest to find a way to cross the border to Texas unseen by authorities.
During their travels, Mike and Rafo learn to understand and appreciate each other. Along the way Mike even finds a love interest who stirs a heart that has long been dormant ever since Mike lost his wife and child years ago.
Thankfully Eastwood saves us a 91-year-old love scene, instead opting to tug at the heartstrings with the romantic image of two people expressing their affection in body language as they dance to a dreamy song. His love interest is played brilliantly by Natalia Traven, who captures not only Mike’s heart, but the heart of every romantic in the audience and does it without a word of English.
Cry Macho is a textbook Eastwood-directed film. It isn’t his best film, but it has a lot of quality moments. It’s an enjoyable movie with a feel-good ending. Eastwood can be proud.
Cry Macho is based on the N. Richard Nash novel of the same name. Nash also adapted the script from his novel, with additional writing contributions from longtime Eastwood collaborator Nick Schenk. Schenk previously collaborate with Eastwood on the films Gran Torino and The Mule.
Producer Albert S. Ruddy had been trying to get a film adaptation of the Nash novel made for decades. Eastwood was first offered the part of Mike Milo in 1988 but turned it down to play Dirty Harry in the film The Dead Pool. Robert Mitchum, Roy Scheider, Burt Lancaster, Pierce Brosnan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger were all considered for the role over the years until Eastwood committed to the project in October 2020. Filming began the next month and wrapped in December. Shooting mid-pandemic, COVID-19 virus testing was done on a daily basis.
All in all, it’s a good film. It is paced well, has an interesting story and quality acting. The score works in synch with the cinematography to fully stimulate the senses. Would I pay to see it in the theatre? Probably not. But for the price of a HBO/MAX streaming subscription it’s great entertainment.
Peace. Love. Trust.
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