Cry Macho (AU - M/UK - 12/US - PG-13)

In a Word: Seasoned

Cry Macho

Clint Eastwood plays Mike Milo in Cry Macho. PICTURE Warner Bros Pictures.

Clint Eastwood’s impressive career has earned him an iconic status in cinema history. At 91-years-old, Eastwood defies all expectations of his age to produce, direct and star in Cry Macho.

"Cry Macho is a simple and understated story. Eastwood is renowned for an economical style of directing that often uses first takes and avoids reshoots. With the right script and cast, this style has produced astonishing films such as Gran Torino and Million Dollar Baby. In Cry Macho the result is a mixed bag. Some scenes come across a little stilted with under-cooked writing while others do shine and legitimately pull at the heartstrings."

Eastwood plays washed up cowboy, Mike Milo, who is gifted at training animals, but after breaking his back in a rodeo, now has a lifetime of regret. When his former boss, Howard, hires him to retrieve/kidnap his 13-year-old son, Rafo, from a crime lord in Mexico, Mike begins the dangerous journey across the border. Mike discovers Rafo hiding in the streets at an illegal cockfight. (the titular “Macho” of the film is the name of Rafo’s prized fighting cock). This unlikely trio commence a heartfelt roadtrip as they evade their pursuers and discover kindness, faith and family in a small town in Mexico. 

Cry Macho is a simple and understated story. Eastwood is renowned for an economical style of directing that often uses first takes and avoids reshoots. With the right script and cast, this style has produced astonishing films such as Gran Torino and Million Dollar Baby. In Cry Macho the result is a mixed bag. Some scenes come across a little stilted with under-cooked writing while others do shine and legitimately pull at the heartstrings. 

As the name suggests, the story is an exploration of what true strength means. As a young rodeo star, Mike once believed strength was shown in grand displays of machismo, riding wild horses and risking life and limb. The wisdom of age has shown him that such risks were foolishness. This theme of male strength continues as the tale includes cockfighting, verbal sparring, grandstanding and seduction. The film never explicitly defines its message, but rather reinforces the question “what is strength?” by simply showing the impact of age on an icon of male power - Clint Eastwood himself. His gaunt features, hunched frame and unsteady walk are authentic to his age, but underneath the wrinkled skin, it is impossible not to see the star that was once the very symbol of strength, sex appeal and violent justice.

In the past we might have expected Eastwood to defeat crime bosses and corrupt cops with a quick draw and a .45 Magnum. But at this advanced age, it is literally the chicken that does most of the fighting. Mike Milo’s strength now comes from his kindness, honour and honesty. And perhaps this is a power that we can learn at any age.