Cry Macho

Cry Macho ★★★

Review by David Ehrlich

In a world so impatient that people have started to whine about the injustice of movies playing in theaters for a few weeks before they (finally!) become available to watch at home, Clint Eastwood has spent the last 33 years waiting for the right time to make a sleepy, featherlight neo-Western about a widowed old rodeo star with nothing to live for, and the rooster named Macho who shows him the strength he needs to find new purpose.

Now 91 years old and feeble enough to instill Tom Cruise levels of snuff film suspense just by climbing onto a stationary horse, Eastwood has finally decided the time is right to make a movie about the kind of strength that allows a man to survive in this country — at long last, Macho is coming home to roost.

“Cry Macho” may be the first of Eastwood’s films to reflect the ineffable frailty that wafts off the late works of other masters like Manoel de Oliveira and Alain Resnais (neither of whom ever made a movie during the pre-vaccine stretch of a coronavirus pandemic), but it also finds that some of his oldest motifs have only gotten better with age. Striking as it is to see how far Eastwood has sunken into his bones since “The Mule” — or to feel how little muscle he’s flexing behind the camera even when compared to his work on 2019’s “Richard Jewell” — this dusty little fable tells a story that mines a gentle power from its self-evident weakness, and it only works as well as it does because it makes you worry if Eastwood may have waited too long to tell it.