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Film / Cry Macho

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"I used to be a lot of things, but I'm not now."

"This 'macho' thing is overrated. Just people trying to show that they've got grit. That's about all they end up with. It's like anything else in life, you think you got all the answers. Then you realize, as you get older, you don't have any of them."

Cry Macho is a 2021 American neo-Western drama film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, with a screenplay by Nick Schenk and N. Richard Nash. It is based on N. Richard Nash's 1975 novel of the same name.

Mike Milo (Eastwood) is an old one-time rodeo star and washed-up horse breeder who, in 1980, takes a job from an ex-boss (Dwight Yoakam) to bring the man's young son, Rafael "Rafo" (Eduardo Minett) home from Mexico. Forced to take the backroads on their way to Texas, the unlikely pair faces an unexpectedly challenging journey, during which the world-weary horseman finds unexpected connections and his own sense of redemption.

The film was released both in theaters and on HBO Max same-day (for a one-month duration) on September 17, 2021.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The '80s: Although the film has a very brief prologue set in 1979, the rest of the film takes place in 1980 after a time skip that jumps ahead by one year.
  • Abusive Parents: Rafo's mother, Leta, cares not for his well-being, only that he is property that she and she alone owns. She even allows her boyfriends to physically abuse him.
  • Age Lift: Mike is 38 in the novel; in the film, he's played by a 90-year-old Clint Eastwood. Eastwood actually seems to have been planning this since he was first offered the film in 1988, turning it down at the time as he somehow felt he was "too young" at 58.
  • The Alcoholic: Mike is mentioned to be an alcoholic with the "before the booze" line. It's quite possible he took to drinking after his family's death in a car crash.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: Rafo participates in cock fights.
  • Career-Ending Injury: A career-ending accident caused Mike to quit rodeos.
  • Cowboy: Mike is a former rodeo performer and horse breeder, and he sports a Stetson hat. The film is full of deconstruction of the traditional "macho" image of cowboys and others meanwhile, with Mike's disillusioned lines about it all.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: In his younger days, Mike was a rodeo star, until a severe back injury ended his career and forced him into early retirement. To make things worse, his wife and children died in a car crash sometime after. Both incidents weighed heavily on Mike, and it's implied he became an alcoholic to cope.
  • Dirty Cop: Mike and Rafo get pulled over by Federales who believe them to be drug smugglers. Rafo does tell them they’re going across the border to see his "sick" father while handing them a handful of pesos.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The title is one to the deconstruction of manliness tropes… and for Macho "crying" in the morning.
  • Foil: Marta to Rafo's mother, Leta. Both are/were mothers who used to have significant others but lost them one way or another. The main difference is that Marta is a caring grandmother who is nothing but helpful to Mike and Rafo, while Leta is a lecherous gangster that could care less about what Rafo does.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: The thugs that steal Mike's car are later arrested for car theft.
  • Period Piece: The film takes place in Mexico in 1980, and boy does it show.
  • Really Gets Around: Rafo's mother is said to have multiple boyfriends one after the other. She's even willing to sleep with the much older Mike at one point.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mike has one for Howard.
    Mike: Howard, I've always thought of you as a small, weak and gutless man. But, you know, there's no reason to be rude.
  • Road Trip Plot: Mike and Rafo's journey on the roads from Mexico to Texas.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Mike's "Jesus Christ!" reaction when he first confronts a reluctant Rafo.