Clint Eastwood it is and will always be one of the great weaknesses of viewers of different generations. And as not to be. A Hollywood cowboy, owner of characters who broke schemes due to emotional vulnerability and director of unforgettable works such as Dirty Harry, Alcatraz Escape, Unforgiven, Madison Bridges, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River O Gran Torino. At 91 years old, he carries a legacy where the best of his cinema weighs more than the worst (what is there, is there?J. Edgar? The beginner?), but with his latest film Cry Macho, this filmmaker could be saying goodbye forever with a final point that wastes ego on all four sides.
A play disguised as a sobering drama where Eastwood plays with a character that only highlights him as the protagonist, voice of sanity, an example of redemption and even an irresistible magnet for women at 91 years of age.
Cry Macho is available in theaters from Friday, September 24, bringing Clint Eastwood back to the big screen three years after From. In addition, it returns to self-directing again, returning to that genre that it knows so well as western drama. The film is based on the novel of the same name by N. Richard Nash (published in 1975) who spent more than a decade trying to jump into the cinema, including with Arnold Schwarzenegger involved in 2011.
The story revolves around a retired rodeo star named Mike Milo (Clint Eastwood) who accepts the mission that his former boss asks him after years of favors: he must cross the border with Mexico and bring his son Rafo (Eduardo Minett) from 13 years in trouble, surrounded by violence and involved in cockfighting, supposedly to give him a better life. The journey quickly becomes an adventure of redemption for old Mike after a life of pain and suffering. And all because of a forced withdrawal as a result of a back injury that leads him down the path of alcohol and absolute loneliness.
As always, Eastwood does an impeccable job as a performer, transmitting that human vulnerability that infects all of his characters no matter how tough they may seem on the outside. The life lessons that he transmits to the young Rafo are full of a beautiful honesty, especially in the teaching that he leaves him on the limits of the word ‘macho’. “Let me tell you, this being male is overrated ”, tells him, as a message of change for the machismo of the male figure of the past in the cinema, where weapons, violence and being implacable by appearances only result in the loss of love and life, leaving loneliness and regret in the path. However, beyond Eastwood’s performance as the voice of experience, his advanced age is too evident to believe certain arcs of the story.
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Although Eastwood plays a character with a back injury, the crippling age is evident. At times it seems that it is difficult for him to walk, he moves slowly and it even seems that it is difficult for him to lift a glass to bring it to his mouth. His gaze and voice are intact, but his body denotes the truth of a life lived for more than nine decades. By no means do we believe that his character is a few decades younger.
And this is where Eastwood’s ego seems to come into play.. An ego that says ‘I can, I want and I do it because I am Clint Eastwood’. The first example is found in an absurd sequence that takes place when Mike arrives in Mexico. Precisely at the house of Rafo’s mother, a woman with arms to take, surrounded by protective thugs, played by the 39-year-old Chilean Fernanda Urrejola.
Mike arrives at the house in search of the teenager, meeting this woman who refuses to allow her son to leave with his father. But he still gives her a free letter to find him. After finding the young man (with sequences that pass with a speed devoid of connecting threads that make sense), Mike returns to the house with the intention of picking him up to take him to the United States only to run into the mother again. And here takes place one of the most absurd sequences in today’s cinema. The woman, dressed in a nightgown and robe, offers him a drink in her room as she surrounds the bed and, suddenly, takes off part of her clothes to offer him a night of passion. An offer that Don Eastwood rejects, hunched over and walking slowly, provoking the anger of the woman for offending her with the rejection in his own home.
And here some problems arise. One, that the scene can be understood as an attempt by the woman to retain him and thus not be able to take her son away, after all she later yells at him that her son is “her property”. And two, which can also be understood as the wrong stereotype of portraying the character as the hot Latina looking for a night of passion, even with a 90-year-old man. Not only because Eastwood rejects her with a mischievous smile, but because she reacts angrily and screaming at being rejected, to the point that she throws a crystal glass at him to prevent her from leaving.
An unbelievable sequence where it is seen between an actress 52 years younger than Clint Eastwood and that history does not need. Especially because at this point a woman does not need to seduce a 90-year-old man with sex to achieve a purpose – we are smarter than that – and because the way in which the woman tries to seduce him does not make any sense, it comes out of nowhere without there had been no hint of romance. In the end, it ends up giving the feeling that the director and actor wanted to show that he can still be a movie star in every way, revealing an unnecessary ego for fulfilling a role that the film did not require. A seducer even without trying.
But also the film in general uncovers Eastwood’s ego of wanting to do it simply because he can and wants to. Because the film is below the usual quality of his cinema, as if by telling a story of redemption with life lessons he did not realize that it was a good movie. The performances of those around him leave much to be desired, especially that of the young Eduardo Minett who accompanies him; the montage feels rushed and the story goes through sequences without tying ends that give meaning to the plot. For example, at the beginning, when Mike finds the young Rafo in a matter of seconds having as information only that he must be in a cockfight. And how many cockfights can there be in Mexico? We are not talking about a small town, we are talking about the fact that it is located in the capital of the country. Without saying that he recognizes the 13-year-old boy after having barely seen a photograph when he was 6. As well as a trip that lasts weeks for not fixing the car when the father could have calmly solved the problem.
It’s as if the shortcomings of the script hadn’t mattered when Clint Eastwood had the urge to make a generational redemption movie. Of a long-suffering man who manages to find love, break with the past and renew himself, like a life lesson that tells us that it is never too late to be happy. And of course, anyone deserves to find love at any age and that is precisely how beautiful we get from Cry Macho, that it is never too late to reinvent yourself, but at the cost of doing it, Clint leaves us a movie that supports his existence solely in him. In his performance, his figure as a redeemed man with a woman throwing herself into his arms with a sexual offer on the way. As if to say to us, ‘look at me, I can still act, direct, hit the mark as a redeemed man and let women die for my bones.’
Tarantino said that he will only make one more film because he wants to retire ‘in style’, leaving his audience wanting more and before “they beg him to leave ” (Deadline). Robert Redford announced his retirement after two wonderful films as they were Us in the night and The old man & the gun (Indiewire). And perhaps Clint should have thought of it that way, ending his cinematographic journey with a work of greater weight in the memory of cinema, of higher quality and not so much a vehicle to extol his own ego.