It's 1927 and Butch Cassidy - now calling himself James Blackthorn (Sam Shepard) is alive and well and living in Bolivia. In his autumn years, he pines for one last sight of home and as he starts his journey, an incident causes him to lose his horse and his savings. But he meets up with the young, Eduardo (Eduardo Noriega), an engineer from a nearby mine who tells him he has stashed away a large bundle of cash in the mine, whose rich owner is famed and feared. The two men head for the mine and the buried cash, with a dozen men after them. But James is in for a nasty surprise.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Nostalgia oozes from this return to the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid story, set 20 years after the pair were meant to have died. But Butch, now going as James Blackthorn, has lived a quiet life in a remote part of Bolivia, raising horses. As he writes in his short letters to Ryan, the son born to Etta (and fathered by either him or Sundance), he wants a last look at home.
He takes out his life savings and sets off, but he runs into trouble and he loses both the horse and his savings. The young man who caused the trouble is desperate for the older man's help and tells him of the stash he has buried in the nearby mine where he worked as an engineer. It'll repay Butch for his loss ...
The pair set off on what becomes a deadly adventure and keeps us engaged and involved throughout. Sam Shepard delivers a terrific, dry performance as the older Butch Cassidy, his stoic view of life honed by years of reflection and self realisation. It's a well written screenplay and director Mateo Gil makes the most of it.
Eduardo Noriega is also excellent as the young opportunist, and Magaly Solier is terrific as Yana, the Bolivian woman with whom Butch has had a romantic relationship - which is portrayed with feeling and down to earth honesty. Stephen Rea is effective as the man who let the young Butch and Sundance get away, now a recluse with a crucial role to play.
The twists and revelations add to the tension as the story unravels, ending on a truly iconic touch true to the Western genre. Satisfying and surprising, Blackthorn is crafted with skill and Lucio Godoy's score is a valuable addition to its achievements.
Review by Louise Keller:
Worth seeing for the extraordinary Bolivian landscape alone, Blackthorn is an interesting film from many viewpoints. To begin with, anyone familiar with the classic Butch Cassidy tale, cannot but be fascinated by the concept and treatment - twenty years later. Embodied effectively by a craggy Sam Shepard, it is not the physicality of Shepard that convinces us of his identity, but his character and the morals by which he lives. After all, it was never about the money. Director Matteo Gil, who penned The Sea Inside and Vanilla Sky, has created a work in the vein of Sergio Leone, where the striking, harsh setting with its multi-coloured rocks, dramatic cliff-faces and salt plains becomes part of the fabric of the story.
Effectively weaving in and out of flashback, Miguel Barros' debut screenplay shows a younger Butch (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) whose handsome features do not necessarily resemble the young Paul Newman, but allow us to remember the key relationships between Sundance (Padraic Delaney) in the Robert Redford role and Etta Place (Dominique McElligott) as Katharine Ross' character. Etta was a modern-thinking gal, who loved both her men.
When the story begins, Butch, living under the pseudonym of James Blackthorn (Shepard) is preparing to leave his Bolivian exile. He has decided to leave the modest ranch where he raises horses, to head to San Francisco and meet the boy who might well be his son. His relationship with Yana (Magaly Solier), the Indian girl who works for him, is as unconventional as that he shared with Etta, years ago. She shares his bed, yet Yana formally calls him Mr James.
Dragged into an adventure involving a Spanish mining engineer named Eduardo (Eduardo Noriega), a stolen pot of money and a deserted mine, Blackthorn's departure from Bolivia is not the peaceful one he expects. Stephen Rea plays Mackinley, a man obsessed with finding Butch Cassidy. The dipping in and out of the past works and gives the story ballast, but it is the weather-beaten features of Shepard and the spectacular setting captured by cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchia, that elevates this tale above expectations.
Published June 21, 2012
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BLACKTHORN: DVD (M)
CAST: Sam Shepard, Eduardo Noriega, Stephen Rea, Magaly Solier, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Padraic Delaney, Dominique McElligott, Luis Bredow
PRODUCER: Ibon Cormenzana, Andres Santana
DIRECTOR: Mateo Gil
SCRIPT: Miguel Barros
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jean Ruiz-Anchia
EDITOR: David Gallart
MUSIC: Lucio Godoy
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Juan Pedro De Gaspar
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: none
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Pinnacle
DVD RELEASE: June 22, 2012