Cry Macho (2021)
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Premise: A former rodeo star (Clint Eastwood) travels from Texas to Mexico in search of an old friend’s teenage son (Eduardo Minett). He attempts to bring the boy back to the United States.
What Works: Cry Macho is beautifully photographed by cinematographer Ben Davis. The story mostly takes place in the arid rural areas of Mexico and Cry Macho captures the ruggedness and beauty of the landscape especially in scenes taking place near sunset. The movie centers upon the relationship between the elderly former rodeo star and ranch hand played by Clint Eastwood and the teenage boy played by Eduardo Minett. The two of them are well paired. Eastwood acts in a fatherly way toward the younger man and their relationship is agreeable. Minett’s character has been through hell and that’s evident throughout his performance. Cry Macho is also distinguished by the romance between Eastwood’s character and a smalltown restauranteur played by Natalia Traven. There is a sweetness and longing between Eastwood and Traven that makes their love story the best part of the film.
What Doesn’t: Cry Macho has a troubling and xenophobic regard for Mexico. With the exception of Traven’s character and her granddaughters, virtually everyone south of the border is corrupt, perverse, or otherwise ill-intended. The Mexican characters are also mostly one dimensional. They don’t have any personality or complexity. Traven’s character, although virtuous and kind, fits into a stereotype of women in the western genre. Cry Macho pokes at some ideas about masculinity. Eastwood’s character is a shell of the man he was in his prime, a hard manly-man broken down by age and by life, and yet he fulfills his obligations and does what needs doing. The film intentionally offers a vision of masculinity that is paternal and at odds with ostentatious violence. But a lot of that commentary is obvious and shallow. The film’s ideas about masculinity are underdeveloped and mostly spelled out in a tagged-on monolog near the very end of the picture. There’s little tension in the movie. Eastwood and Minett’s characters are pursued by corrupt authorities and thugs hired by the boy’s mother. There’s little sense of urgency and the filmmakers miss obvious opportunities to do something interesting with the story’s themes and with the western genre. Eastwood and Minett’s characters take shelter in a small town and the film sets up an opportunity for a showdown in which the conflict can finally come to a climax. Instead, the characters and the action move along and the ending is underwhelming.
Bottom Line: Cry Macho is a disappointing film. It’s got impressive technical craft and the kernels of some interesting ideas and relationships but none of it is carried to a meaningful conclusion.
Episode: #870 (September 26, 2021)