Eastwood's latest is far from his best, but it is a well crafted and emotional drama.
Clint Eastwood of all people most likely doesn’t need to be introduced, but for those who aren’t familiar, Eastwood is an iconic actor, director, producer and composer who has worked in film since the 1950s. His directorial career is where he is seemingly most focused, having made almost 4o features. He isn’t the most versatile director working, but he is one of the most consistent and it is remarkable that, despite being a staggering 91 years old, he is still able to produce, star in and direct a film as good as Cry Macho in the later years of his life. This therefore places him in an elite tier of artists who continue to deliver great works at such an age alongside the likes of Manoel de Oliveira (who released his last film, A Century of Energy, at the age of 106!).
Cry Macho is a notably small film, but that isn’t to its detriment. Sitting alone in the cinema (which admittedly was quite depressing as the film had released only a day before my screening) and having the occasional interruption from, presumably, the Eternals in the screen adjacent felt appropriate given the comfortably small scale that Eastwood operates within for this film, perhaps as a reflection of his narrowing interests in cinematic representations. It treads familiar ground for Eastwood and his work – Eastwood plays Mike Milo, a man asked by his former boss and good friend to go to Mexico and convince the man’s estranged son to come to live with him. If it sounds familiar, it’s because it probably is but the power of the film comes more so from its nuances than from its wider ideas. For example, this film features a very rare scene in which Eastwood visibly sheds a tear, linking it to his only other explicit tear-roll in 2008’s Gran Torino. This small detail makes the film truly touching, as Eastwood deconstructs his usual representation and his status as a cinematic icon once again through subtle subversion.
Of course, it isn’t a film solely enjoyed for its nuances, though. The two leading performances are great, with a comforting chemistry, and the cinematography (especially the wider exterior shots at nighttime) by Ben Davis, who funnily enough was also the cinematographer for the aforementioned Eternals, is stunning throughout. The gentle nature of the pacing, the tenderness of the themes and performances and the beauty of that cinematography are the best attributes of Cry Macho, as the script does lack a strong ending (it feels quite abrupt, as though it just needed another five to ten minutes to exhale authentically). Eduardo Minett gives what could easily be his breakthrough performance as the young Rafael, as he does a great job bouncing off of both the buddy elements of the film and the darker moments.
Whilst Eastwood has made many better films including his previous work Richard Jewell (2019), Cry Macho is still a refreshing and emotional tale that is well told. For fans of Eastwood, it comes with a recommendation, particularly for those who prefer his more dramatic work as this is certainly no action film or western, but a drama. Think more along the lines of A Perfect World than Unforgiven.
Cry Macho is now showing in U.K. cinemas. See the trailer below: