Hey, Hollywooders! What’s Good in the ‘Wood?
I went on opening day (September 17) to see Cry Macho, one of the many new movie releases out now in theaters.
I took a look at theaters near me to compare movie showtimes and settled on going to the 1:15 p.m. showing at the Showcase Cinemas theater near me. I was one of very few people in the theater on this Friday afternoon, resulting in a very intimate movie viewing experience. The lobby was empty when I walked in, leaving no lines for concessions to purchase movie theater popcorn!
Watch the Cry Macho trailer here:
What is Cry Macho about?
Cry Macho is a neo-Western film that starts its story in Texas where a former rodeo star named Mike Milo (played by Hollywood vet Clint Eastwood, who also directed the movie) is recruited by his past boss (Dwight Yoakam) to go to Mexico and bring his son Rafo (Eduardo Minett) home to him.
When Mike crosses the border and reaches Rafo’s mother’s house, he learns that Rafo is often getting himself into trouble and is involved in cockfighting. Mike finds Rafo and his rooster, Macho, and explains to him why he’s there. After some hesitation, Rafo agrees to go with Mike and the 2 begin their journey back to Texas.
After Rafo’s entrance in the film, a discussion begins about what it means to be ‘macho.’ In many Latin American cultures, the idea of ‘machismo’ is strong or aggressive masculine pride, and can be equated to toxic masculinity. Throughout the film, however, Mike shows Rafo that being macho can also mean being vulnerable while keeping your head up.
Mike and Rafo’s journey is filled with obstacles, but the 2 eventually find a town that they take a liking to. They get involved in the community and relationships with its members begin to blossom, as well as their relationship with each other. This makes for an emotional goodbye once they must leave the town to complete their journey.
I liked that the film didn’t follow the typical story structure of exposition, rising action, climax, then falling action, but instead had small conflicts throughout the film that the characters had to work through. Cry Macho is based on the 1975 novel of the same name by N. Richard Nash.
The characters find family without searching for it
After what I found to be a rocky start for Cry Macho, the film delivers a heartfelt message through the characters’ journey. From the beginning of the movie, Mike seems to be alone and left without any loved ones or much ambition. When the audience meets Rafo, we see that he is in a similar situation, as he ran away from his living situation with his mother since he no longer felt at home there.
On their way to Mexico, Mike and Rafo stumble upon a cantina in a small town. The restaurant is owned by a sweet woman named Marta (Natalia Traven) who is very quick to help the traveling duo. From here on, Marta provides much of the heart of the film. Despite the fact that if you don’t speak Spanish you may not understand what Marta is saying half of the time, she is arguably the most likable character. She instantly appears warm and caring and from her smile alone, it is evident that Mike and Rafo will be safe with her.
It quickly becomes clear that Rafo somewhat views Marta as a motherly figure, which he has been missing for quite some time now, and Mike has made a genuine connection with someone for the first time in a while. After Mike and Rafo establish a connection with Marta and take a liking to her family, they take a detour from their journey to spend time at the cantina and the surrounding community, where both finally feel they belong.
During their time in this town, Rafo and Mike also begin to view each other as more than just travel partners. Rafo even says to Mike at one point that he thought he had finally found a friend in him. The connections that these 2 establish in the town make for an emotional goodbye when they inevitably have to leave to complete the journey.
Reconciling with the past allows characters to move forward
Right from the start of Cry Macho, its characters are accepting what they’ve experienced in the past and are doing their best to move on from it. For example, Rafo’s father admits that he should have been there for his son more but also recognizes that Rafo really needs him now and may be better off living in Texas, which is why he sends Mike to find him.
Similarly, Mike uses this trip to reconcile with his past without even knowing it at first. Throughout the film, the audience learns that Mike experienced extreme loss in his life, which led him to make bad decisions. He finally begins forming meaningful relationships again which helps him to move on from the trauma that he has been carrying. Mike even gets back into riding when he and Rafo are staying in that small town in Mexico. When Rafo sees Mike riding, he finally recognizes him as macho.
Rafo’s past relationships have led him to not trust anyone, and he makes that clear to Mike early on in their trip. For this reason, Mike is shocked to see Rafo quickly confide in Marta when the 2 find themselves at her cantina. Although Rafo’s lack of trust is often justified, he slowly opens up to Mike as their relationship develops. When they are at the stable working to train wild horses, Mike and Rafo gain the trust of one of the steeds and calm him down, showing Rafo what good can come of letting your walls down.
What others thought of Cry Macho
Reviewers and audiences are buzzing about Cry Macho after seeing it in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. Sara Stewart of the New York Post calls Cry Macho “Clint Eastwood’s most charming movie in years” and says, “He directs, famously, with ruthless efficiency.”
The New York Times critic A.O. Scott writes that Cry Macho is “a deep cut for the die-hards, a hangout movie with nothing much to prove and just enough to say, with a pleasing score (by Mark Mancina) and some lovely desert scenery (shot by Ben Davis). If the old man’s driving, my advice is to get in and enjoy the ride.”
One movie-goer on Twitter praised Clint Eastwood for his work in Cry Macho.
Really happy that Clint Eastwood is still alive and making movies. He’s a torch bearer. So refined with his skill, it’s truly become effortless. I wish more life for the OG.
— moeti damane (@iamSANhedrin) September 18, 2021
This fan said they found Cry Macho to be a superb film.
Cry Macho was yet again another moving, superb, and simply wonderful piece of film by Clint Eastwood. Wow.
— jairo (@blurrzkis) September 18, 2021
Screenwriter Billy Ray Brewton called Cry Macho Clint Eastwood’s most sensitive film in recent years!
As a filmmaker, at 91, Clint Eastwood exercises a patience and vulnerability that is actually quite refreshing. And, even at that age, he’s still every bit the movie star he always was. CRY MACHO is his most sensitive film since MILLION DOLLAR BABY.
— Billy Ray Brewton (@BillyRayBrewton) September 18, 2021
Will you be seeing Cry Macho in a movie theater or streaming at home on HBO Max? If you plan on heading to the theater, check out our helpful tips on how to stay safe while doing so!
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