Eye For Film >> Movies >> Cry Macho (2021) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
You know things are not going well for a film when, part way through, you idly begin to wonder whether the novel by R Richard Nash can really be as all over the place as this adaptation by Nick Schenk - and I suspect we should cut Nash some slack. All of which is odd when you consider the story is familiar emotional ground for Schenk, who also scripted the much more robust Gran Torino, which saw a curmudgeonly Clint Eastwood forge an unexpected friendship with a teenager.
Here the old guy/teen connection is similar although this time we're in road trip territory as Eastwood's former rodeo star Mike Milo - complete with a literal tragic back story (he broke it), coupled with grief and recovering addiction - agrees to try to bring the Mexican teenage son of his former employer (Dwight Yoakham), who his father believes is being abused by his alcoholic mother Leta (Fernanda Urrejola), north of the Border.
The early scenes are mired in expositional dialogue, so it's quite a relief when Eastwood takes to the road and we're allowed a bit of ruminative open country - something that Eastwood and Ben Davis have a definite eye for and which is captured with warmth throughout. As Mike rocks up at Lena's place, however, you begin to suspect that you're not in Mexico at all but some sort of Grandad Fantasyland. Eastwood is looking good for a nonagenarian, no doubt, but the idea that not one, but two women four decades his junior would see him as a potential mate through the course of this film, is definitely pushing it. Plus, this guy is, as he points out himself, a veritable "Dr Dolittle" when it comes to animals, whether it's breaking in horses or fixing up goats.
Then there's the kid. Rafo (Eduardo Minett) is, far from the criminal his mother declared him to be, a sweet youngster, who agrees to head north with Mike so long as he can bring his fighting cock, named Macho, who actually does prove to be quite handy even in a non-bird fight. What happens next, sees the unlikely trio holing up in a small pueblo where the owner of the local Cantina (Natalia Traven) takes a shine to them both. But unlike the boys, the film fails to settle - it's as tonally all over as a bad school recorder class, mixing odd bits of comedy involving Macho, recalling Any Which Way But Loose's Clyde, with sporadic outbreaks of violence - each resolved with almost laughable haste - and something altogether more soulful.
That it works at all is down to Eastwood, the actor, whose growl and twinkle are both still loved by a camera and Traven, who polishes her small role like a fine piece of glass. Minett and Urrejola fair less well, the young actor's English delivery is flat by comparison so the chemistry between Rafo and Mike fails to be as sparky as it should, while Urrejola is only a hair's breadth away from the deliberately OTT performance of Salma Hayek in The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard. There's nothing wrong with a slice of old-fashioned entertainment but too much of this feels as though it has been out in the Mexican sun for too long.Reviewed on: 09 Nov 2021
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