Butch Cassidy is Alive and Well and Living in Blackthorn
Riffing on how outlaw Butch Cassidys life might have gone had he survived in South America, this modest oater should tickle western fans. (I assume there are a few of us left.) Blackthorn finds Cassidy (Sam Shepard) still in Bolivia, breeding horses, bedding his Indian housekeeper (Magaly Solier), and making plans to return to the States. After being bushwhacked by a fleeing thief (Eduardo Noriega), Butchsuddenly broke and a sucker for companionshiptags along for one last score. Bad idea. Director Mateo Gil, best known for writing late-90s thriller Abre los ojos, finds a good balance between understated drama and the grandiose Bolivian landscape, but Blackthorns real draw is Shepard. He plays the aging rogue (going by the name James Blackthorn) with a wily mix of restlessness, comic irascibility, and, in a nod to George Roy Hills 1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, winking acknowledgement of his movie-star status. The extent to which Gil references Hills film is the biggest surprise here, in fact: Noriegas deadpan exasperation and twitchy stache are downright Redfordian, while flashbacks featuring the young Cassidy and Sundance (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Padraic Delaney, respectively) evoke its playfulness. This lightness finally overshadows the storys elegiac potential and leaves the toll of Cassidys exile largely untapped, and even Shepards magnetism cant lift Blackthorn above the status of cinematic lark.
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