Westerns are a dead genre today. Hollywood romanticized 1800s America as a wasteland of rowdy saloons, lovestruck women and heart-stopping stand-offs. Those days have since died off as dusty cowboys pale in comparison to cutting-edge superheroes. Today’s feature gives westerns a facelift directed by one of its legends.
Based on the novel by N. Richard Nash, Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho guides us on a simple mission turned police hunt. He seamlessly merges classical westerns and modernity for a timeless feel. We see an intimate story of two lost souls nurturing each other as their lives hang in the balance.
Texas, 1980 – Aging rodeo star Michael Milo (Eastwood) is tasked by his former boss to rescue his son, Rafa (Eduardo Minett). The 13-year-old son was raised on the dangerous streets of Mexico due to his abusive mother. Milo and Rafa form a father-son bond, exposing their pasts and learning from each other. Meanwhile, police forces relentlessly hunt them down.
Eastwood continues to impress as Milo, playing him as a lone wolf with painful past scars. At an astounding 91 years of age, he’s living proof that you’re never too old for anything. Minett plays the angsty, damaged Rafa. With no loving parents beside him, Rafa lives by “survival of the fittest.” Natalia Traven plays Marta, my favorite character who binds our guys together.
I love Eastwood’s return to western style. From its country soundtrack to vast Mexican deserts, Cry Macho is reminiscent of golden-age westerns like Gunsmoke and Bonanza. It defies controversial cliches the genre glorified.
Mexico isn’t portrayed as a dangerous wasteland full of sombrero-clad bandits. Everyone feels like real people. Despite being set in the late-20th century, there’s a sense of timelessness. I was reminded of villages in the world that are stuck in time, unable to progress into modern society.
Themes include the hyper-masculinity of Eastwood’s time. Rafa feels he must hide behind a strong, macho persona to survive. Milo counters this belief – macho is overrated. Nowadays, it’s encouraged for men to show vulnerability and emotion.
Overcoming your past and living for the future are more great themes. Milo and Rafa maintain a shaky relationship throughout their journey. With help from characters like Marta, they help each other realize their pasts don’t define them and become better people. One of my favorite scenes has Milo teaching Rafa how to ride a horse, exemplifying their father-son bond.
MY RATING? 3.5/5. Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho returns to a simplistic, old-fashioned western polished with modernity. We focus closely on two broken souls more similar than they know. However, it doesn’t stand out enough compared to other films this year or its own genre. Nevertheless, we need these slower and meditative pieces to offset today’s trend of sensory overload.
IMDb Official (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1924245/)