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Clint Eastwood Takes on Toxic Masculinity—and Himself—in ‘Cry Macho’

Courtesy Warner Brothers

Clint Eastwood is the last remnant of an era of “macho” Hollywood movie stars, and the shot that introduces him in Cry Macho—panning up from his cowboy boots to his wide-brimmed hat, his figure cast in silhouette as he steps out of an antique Chevrolet pickup truck—confirms that, even at age 91, he’s as imposingly masculine as ever. No matter a preceding image of a hand operating a vehicle’s shifter, Eastwood isn’t changing gears at this point in his career (and life), and his latest is yet another in a long line of superb films that pays homage to his legendary big-screen persona while simultaneously deconstructing the very tenets upon which it’s built.

An adaptation of a 1975 N. Richard Nash novel that numerous A-listers have previously tried to produce, Cry Macho (Sept. 17, in theaters and on HBO Max) is a tender and moving variation on a tale Eastwood has been telling, in altered forms, for decades. Mike Milo (Eastwood) is an ex-rodeo star and rancher who, in 1979, is fired by his boss Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam), whom Mike promptly tells, “I’ve always thought of you as a small, weak and gutless man. But you know, there’s no reason to be rude.”

Mike takes shit from no one, but he’s also a broken-down loner with a history of tragedy and substance abuse. One year later, he’s living a solitary life—marked by sitting solo at dusk on a folding chair outside a modest residence decorated with ribbons, trophies, and newspaper clippings of his pre-injury glory days—when Howard reappears and collects on a debt by asking Mike to travel to Mexico to retrieve his son Rafo (Eduardo Minett), who lives with his supposedly abusive mother.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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