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Movie review - Cry Macho - 2021 dir: Clint Eastwood

At 91yrs of age, here we get a languished directorial offering from Eastwood in which he also stars. This is not to be taken as a detriment though and Eastwood; looking, moving and sounding very much his expansive decades on this earth, brings forth an easy-going buddy/coming of age story, between a 13yr old Mexican boy and a time-worn and grizzled old man.

The film’s script had been in the pipeline for over 3 decades, with Roy Scheider and Arnold Schwarzenegger being attached at some stage to play the character of Mike Milo that Eastwood finally filled the shoes for. Set in the late 70’s, an aged and worn-out horse breeder/ex-rodeo star, Milo is asked by his former employer, (whom he has had a falling out with), to pay back a favour by travelling to Mexico and bring his 13yr old son back to him.

The boy has been brought up by his corrupted and narcissistic socialite mother who lacks decent morals/ethics, and the kid has become estranged and wayward. He has been subject to different forms of abuse, (largely hinted at through dialog), and the street life of Mexico City. 

Rafo, played by then 15yr old Eduardo Minett, has a pet rooster he calls Macho. Rafo enters Macho into the cruel sport of cockfighting, but Macho is quite a star and Rafo can make a living off his rooster by winning wagers/bets. It is a vile sport, yet within the context of the films setting and era, it nicely sets up the film’s arc. Eastwood also wisely steers clear of showcasing any actual cockfighting and this aspect is just a trope for the theme of the film.

Understandably, Rafo is wary of Milo at first, yet through circumstance, ends up traveling back to the US border with Milo who had initially given up trying to convince the boy. The three of them, Macho included, venture on a somewhat precarious journey through rural Mexico with henchmen on their heels. Rafo’ mother wants her boy back and both her and the father have their own agendas.

What transpires, is Milo and Rafo starting to find a bond and connection with each other, the people they meet along the way and Milo teaching Rafo some life lessons about what it means to be a man, that has eluded the boy due to not having any ideal male role models in his life. He has been used. In what can also be only seen as a bit of a wink-nod gesture to the audience, Eastwood also manages to make himself look like he is still a ladies’ man and still has a knack to woo them in.

Minett as Rafo is well cast and naturally captures the awkwardness, mannerisms and cockiness of a young teen boy who via social conditioning, thinks he is tough. Cry Macho certainly proves that Eastwood still has a knack of knowing how to make a great looking film. His use of music, cinematography and editing make for a point, that while nothing earth-shattering, unfolds warmly with gentle humour. 

Darren Cunningham

Available on DVD from the Main Library - FTV display collection CRY

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