The macho in the title of Clint Eastwood’s latest, crying macho, refers to the name of an expensive fighting cock belonging to a thirteen-year-old Mexican boy, as well as to the machismo that the cock represents. It’s 1980, and the boy, Rafa (Eduardo Minett), travels north to meet the American father he barely knows at the border, accompanied by an old Texas cowboy, Mike (Eastwood), doing what is technically a kidnapping as a favor to daddy. The rooster is there, much to Mike’s chagrin. The symbolism is that of the transition to virility and its accompanying false idols, although as with Eastwood’s last flagship vehicle, The mule, there is less travel here than stopping and detouring.
For an Eastwood fan, much crying macho will feel like a minor variation on familiar patterns, with the feeling laid on the thick. Despite being forever consecrated as Harry Callahan and the Man with No Name, the actor-director has at this point spent decades deconstructing the iconography that made him a star, making films that tell us, one way or another, that heroism is momentary. while regret tends to be a lifelong affair, and those who hide behind hardened outsiders end up looking back into the void.
Here at 91, almost 30 years since he split from the Western genre in unforgiven, he dons the wide-brimmed hat again and even briefly saddles a horse (although he’s definitely a stuntman riding). Hunched over, shaking and no longer as tall, he is nonetheless a familiar Eastwood figure, grieving for what might have been. Long ago, he lost his rodeo fame to a broken back and his family to a car accident; more recently he lost his job as a horse trainer due to alcohol and old age. The man who fired him is Rafa’s father Howard (Dwight Yoakam), who claims unspecified “legal issues” prevent him from setting foot in Mexico; as we soon learn, Mike is actually the third man he sent to pick up the boy.
The plot, however, is purely secondary, with the stakes a distant third; the emphasis is on what might be called vibrations. If Eastwood has anything to say about the cowboy archetype, it’s that he can still be a role model, as long as he accepts his imperfections. Driving the brooding and delinquent Rafa from Mexico City to the border, Mike teaches primarily by example. From him, we learn that a cowboy must cook (“Cowboys always cook, it’s kind of our business”), love animals, enjoy the outdoors and know how to repair a jukebox.
One has to wonder if Eastwood, through Mike, is addressing the young audience who likely won’t see the film, the older audience who will see it, or its own status as a living cultural memory. Mike and Rafa’s bond is never convincing from a distance (Eastwood’s style remains ruthless to young and inexperienced actors), but it’s hard not to be moved by the sight of this stunted old man choking and cries under the deep shadow of his hat. edge.
Eventually, the cowboy and kid find themselves lying in a cozy little village, where Mike catches the attention of Marta (Natalia Traven), a widow who runs a local restaurant, resulting in scattered sweet moments as well as agonizing lengths. As with Eastwood’s other late works, expect some bum notes, some crankiness and squeaks, awkward rhythm and stereotypes in minor roles. Some peculiarities of The mule have continued, namely Eastwood’s predilection for montages and his insistence on portraying her character as irresistible to an assortment of younger women. Whether a viewer finds them charming or not probably depends on their investment in the performance. crying macho like a text from Eastwood.
The point is that, as a movie, crying macho is slow and sometimes boring. But as a statement from Hollywood’s oldest man and working director, he offers his part of brilliant and discreet ideas. A sin The mule (of which it’s really a side piece), Eastwood wants to remind us that a big part of life is just going to bed and eating different kinds of sandwiches; better get used to it and try to enjoy it. Just in case we don’t get the message, he grates it at the end: “This macho thing is overrated.”