Director-actor Clint Eastwood’s latest outing as a ranchhand and rodeo performer in his Western drama, Cry Macho, has effectively polarized critics and the general audience. While some are elated by the revival of the kind of character the renowned actor is famous for portraying in the prime of his acting career, many have pointed out the errors the film is peppered with. And director-film critic Paul Schrader has made it pretty clear that he falls in the latter category with his scathing review for the latest Eastwood film.
After Cry Macho was simultaneously released in theaters and on HBO Max, Paul Schrader took to his Facebook page to drop his personal review of the Clint Eastwood starrer. While many critics have established their displeasure with Eastwood’s new Western drama, they have refrained from outrightly highlighting the issues with the film perhaps in deference to the 91-year-old filmmaker who has often been credited with defining Western dramas as a genre with his memorable roles. But Schrader harbored no such qualms when he sat down to list all that he thinks is wrong with Cry Macho.
In his brief review, Paul Schrader compared Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho to Howard Hawks’ comedy film Man’s Favorite Sport?, calling the filmmaker’s Western drama worse than the 1964 film. According to Schrader, Cry Macho disappoints in every category, whether it is screenwriting, lighting, locations, props, wardrobe, the choice of actors, etc.
“When, early on, Eastwood employs an under the car shot of a boot hitting the ground I thought, ‘Great, he’s going to riff on the stylizations of macho westerns’ — but that was the last interesting composition in the film,” Schrader writes.
Schrader sarcastically comments that while Clint Eastwood gets to deliver a speech on machismo and how pointless it is, it is only worthwhile because “a shrunken ‘Dirty Harry’ is giving voice to them.”
“These character insights had value thirty years ago. It was like listening to a criminal apologize to the family of his victims in hopes that the judge will cut him a lesser sentence,” he added.
Cry Macho sees Clint Eastwood’s Mike Milo, an old ranchhand and rodeo performer who has retired from his hectic life years ago but has to jump right back in when his boss instructs him to go to Mexico and get his son Rafa (Eduardo Minett). The majority of the story is based on the duo’s journey across Mexico to Texas, the difficulties they face, and the lessons they both learn on the way. Despite being directed by the four-time Oscar-winning Eastwood, the film has failed to be an absolute charmer at the box office and underperformed, grossing a mere $9 million against a $33 million production budget.
While Paul Schrader may have not found a single redeeming quality in the Clint Eastwood starrer, Giant Freakin Robot has given a far more balanced review of the actor’s latest Western drama venture, wherein the director effectively uses his character, Mike Milo, to “reflect on his own history of presenting a tough and cool exterior in his films.” Unlike Eastwood’s past roles in Western films, his outing as the old ranchhand Milo is more about presenting sentimental moments and less about establishing him as a badass character.
While the film does have its share of glaring errors – whether it was Eduardo Minett’s impassionate portrayal of Rafa, the lack of strong female characters, or the stereotypical representation of Mexico – Cry Macho “really does come across as Clint Eastwood saying goodbye to the kind of character that made him a superstar. It’s a movie that has plenty of warm moments and it works more than it doesn’t. It’s very possible we’ll see Eastwood in a starring role after this, but if we didn’t, Cry Macho is a fond enough farewell to a Hollywood titan.”