The Reel Review
Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this neo-Western about a former rodeo star and washed-up horse breeder whose life takes a drastic turn after he agrees to retrieve a teenage boy in Mexico and return him to his father (Dwight Yoakam) in Texas. It is loosely based on the 1975 novel and screenplay from N. Richard Nash.
Set in 1979, this dusty screenplay about an old timer seeking redemption for past mistakes has been trying to find its way to the big screen for more than 45 years. And it’s fitting that Eastwood, at 91, is the man to do it. (Ironically, he turned down the role in 1988 saying he wasn’t old enough.)
About halfway through his journey, we discover that our protagonist not only is a horse whisperer, but seems to have a knack for helping all living creatures – goats, dogs, and people. He seizes an opportunity to reshape the life of the teenage boy he’s transporting back to his father. The boy’s pet rooster, named Macho, spawns discussions on machismo and the definition of manhood.
Frequently the simple story borders on the absurd – from really clunky dialogue, the prospect of a 91-year-old Eastwood still being a sex symbol, and some really silly plot twists that are downright ridiculous. But where Cry Macho works are in the quiet, tender moments, beautiful cinematography and a stirring score. Natalia Traven is sublime as Marta, the small town restaurant owner quietly raising her granddaughters. For viewers with the tolerance for a gentle, not so perfect story, this sweet, slow moving drama is time well spent.
• Clint Eastwood says he hadn’t been on a horse since his 1992 Oscar winning Western, Unforgiven.
• There have been several failed attempts to get Cry Macho made into a movie. Other efforts would have starred Roy Schneider in 1991 and Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2011.
• Filming took place in New Mexico with Nash’s script, which was adapted by Eastwood’s frequent collaborator, Nick Schenk (Gran Torino, The Mule). Nash died in 2000 at the age of 87.