At the ripe old age of 91, it’s clear that Clint Eastwood isn’t the quick-draw gunslinger he used to be. His hand quivers when he picks up a glass and there’s a meandering stagger in his gait. Yet Cry Macho shows that he still possesses the qualities that made him an icon in the first place.
The story of Cry Macho focuses on Mike Milo (Eastwood), a retired rodeo star who is tasked to find the son of a long time acquaintance to whom he owes a great debt. However, once Mike find the young teen, Rafo (Eduardo Minett), he sees an opportunity to show the wannabe cowboy how to be a kind-hearted gentleman.
In the hands of any other filmmaker, Cry Macho would feel trite and 30 years too stale. Yet Eastwood’s performance and direction transform the film into serene swan song for the legendary actor. Every steely gaze, sarcastic remark, and sly smile is given the kind of fanfare that is usually reserved in today’s age for the introduction of a familiar face in a superhero team-up flick. The few moments of actual tension, like a brief car chase or an old school stare-down, are as impactful as an elaborate fight sequence.
Cry Macho is for those who remember the halcyon days of the star-driven vehicle. Eastwood may not be the macho Dirty Harry or The Man With No Name anymore, but he doesn’t need to be. For this legend, he does not go out with a bang. Instead, Eastwood is given a silent moment to bask in the sunlight, and as the screen fades, those in the audience are left to cry macho for the likely swan song of the last true movie star.
The Silver Lining
Natalia Traven only has a small part in Cry Macho as Marta, a cantina owner and widower who provides Mike and Rafo with love and refuge from the authorities. With the little screen time she does have, Traven becomes the beating heart of the film.
Traven’s warm smile and homey gestures humanize Mike and provide Rafo with an internal war between leaving for the unknown American West or the home he’s made with Marta’s family. While we may not always know what Marta is saying, the emotions Traven imbues her character with speak volumes about the love and selflessness of Marta.
Cry Macho is now available on HBO Max (Ad Free) and at a movie theater near you.