The Movie Waffler New to Netflix - CRY MACHO | The Movie Waffler

New to Netflix - CRY MACHO

cry macho review
A former horse breeder and rodeo star agrees to bring his boss's son home from Mexico.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Eduardo Minett, Dwight Yoakam, Natalia Traven, Fernanda Urrejola, Horacio Garcia Rojas

cry macho poster

Three decades ago my father sat me down in front of Unforgiven and told me it would likely be the last time we'd see Clint Eastwood on screen, or if not, surely the last time he would cast himself as the lead in one of his films. Clint was 60 when he made Unforgiven, and back then that seemed like a hell of an age. How times have changed. Tom Cruise turns 60 next year, and will probably be jumping off a space station for Mission Impossible 13 in a decade's time. 90 is the new 60, and Clint shows no signs of slowing down. It took a global pandemic to interrupt his current prolific streak of releasing a new movie annually, with Cry Macho arriving a year later than originally planned.

Based on a 1975 novel by author N. Richard Nash, Cry Macho has gone through several filmmakers' hands, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Burt Lancaster and Pierce Brosnan all set to play its leading man at one point or another. Clint almost made it himself in the late '80s, which tells you how the aging process has changed in the decades since.

cry macho review

It's difficult to imagine any other actor playing Mike Milo, a former rodeo star who turned to horse breeding following a career ending injury. A year after losing his job, his old boss, rancher Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam), enlists him to travel down to Mexico and bring back his 13-year-old son Rafo (Eduardo Minett). Polk claims the boy is being abused by his crazy Mexican mother. Mike isn't so sure, but he owes Polk for helping him get back on his feet after his injury, so he accepts the job.

What follows is essentially a chase movie without the chase. Mike picks up the kid, who agrees to travel to the US, with his cock-fighting rooster Macho for company. With Rafo's mother enlisting the aid of the federales to track down the old man and the kid, Mike and Rafo hole up in an old church in a small village. It's there that Mike finally finds his place in the world. Cry Macho shares a similar plot to director Hugo Fregonese's 1950 film noir One Way Street, in which James Mason plays a mob doctor who hides out in a small Mexican village and finds himself falling into the role of the village GP. Here, Eastwood's Mike becomes his temporarily adopted village's de facto veterinarian. He also finds himself the object of the affections of Marta (Natalia Traven), the attractive middle-aged widow who runs the local cantina.

It soon becomes clear that Mike could head for the border any time he wants, but that he's reluctant to return to the US. He's found comfort away from the noise and nonsense of the Anglo-Saxon world. "I can't cure old," he tells the owner of a dog on its last legs, but in a land where time moves at a slower pace, maybe he'll live a little longer. Mike's advice for the dog's owner is to let the old hound sleep at the end of her bed. You can't beat time, but you can make what's left a little more comfortable.

cry macho review

There's not much to Cry Macho in terms of plot. It's a hangout movie, the cinematic equivalent of cold beers on a warm porch. The grouchy character Clint played in his seventies and eighties has made way for the happy go lucky nonagenarian of The Mule and Cry Macho. His transition from John Wayne to Walter Brennan continues. Clint smiles more in this movie than any other he's ever made. And what a smile! You'll likely laugh when a woman half his age starts to flirt with Mike, but once those famous eyes start to sparkle, you're fully sold. The old man's still got it!

The young Minett is rough around the edges, and a lot of Clint's deliveries suggest he just couldn't be bothered with a second take. But their chemistry is thoroughly charming, two lost men generations apart, like the heroes of a Guy Clark song. The movie has a genuinely great performance from Traven, who as Marta, unable to speak English and thus communicate verbally with Mike, delivers essentially a silent performance that speaks volumes – we see the roads Marta has travelled and the hope this gringo stranger brings in her face.

cry macho review

Ultimately this is the Clint Eastwood show, and your tolerance for Cry Macho's geriatric pacing and lack of high stakes drama will depend on how much you enjoy spending time in his company. Personally I can't think of too many faces I'd rather spend 105 minutes looking at.

Someone once asked Clint if he was religious. He claimed not to believe in a God but to be moved in a spiritual manner by nature. "If I stand on the side of the Grand Canyon and look down, it moves me in some way," was how he summed up his spirituality. I don’t believe in a God either, but when I look at Clint's face, creased with the lines of half of cinema's existence, it moves me in some way. I hope I get to look at it a few more times.

Cry Macho
 is on Netflix UK/ROI now.