The final years in the life of legendary bandit Butch Cassidy are shrouded in mystery, from his rumored death in a Bolivian military standoff, to his escape from South America to die quietly on a Nevada ranch the 1930s. In Mateo Gil's intimate and adventurous Western, a reimagined and aged Butch Cassidy (Sam Shepard) is living under the assumed name James Blackthorn in a secluded village in Bolivia 20 years after his disappearance in 1908. Surviving humbly off the land and finding occasional comforts with a local woman, Yana (Magaly Solier, The Milk of Sorrow), he longs to end his personal exile and return to the US to see his family. Reluctantly joining forces with a Spanish mine robber (Eduardo Noriega) who promises him a cut of the loot, Blackthorn sets out on one final adventure… and discovers he's not the only one harboring a deep secret.
Mateo Gil makes a solid English-language debut with this sublimely shot and well acted tale set in the remarkable landscapes of Bolivia. Sam Shepard gives a riveting performance as the weathered, mysterious, and unsentimental Blackthorn, gracefully revitalizing the legend of history's favorite outlaw.
Director's Statement Collapse
One of the things that I like most about Westerns is that it's a truly moral genre. Its characters face important and life-ensuing subject matters in a very pure and simple state. Freedom, commitment, loyalty, courage, treachery, ownership and money, justice, friendship, and even love. The decisions they are confronted with are not only very dramatic but will also set up moral standards.
What more can you ask from a film? From any dramatic work? It's a genre that helps us look at our own life and find ways to face it.
Blackthorn encompasses all these subject matters in such a way that we realize how important this moral outlook is nowadays and yet how we seem to have forgotten it or consider it obsolete. And by facing these matters from a modern point of view, the movie is obviously nostalgic.
In my opinion the most attractive point of the film's story is this "swan song" premise: our main character's prelude to its own demise.
He is a lonely, exhausted old man who, for an instant, recovers all his energy and dreams due to someone who seems to reincarnate the past, his old friends and his ideals. And this new character, the young engineer who ironically comes from the Old Continent, somehow shows us the future: a future where morals are dangerously hazy as personal interests take top priority.
Cast & Credits Collapse
Primary Cast Sam Shepard, Eduardo Noriega, Stephen Rea, Magaly Solier
Director Mateo Gil
Screenwriter Miguel Barros
Producer Ibon Cormenzana, Andrés Santana
Editor David Gallart
Director of Photography Juan Ruiz-Anchía, ASC
Production Designer Juan Pedro de Gaspar
Executive Producer Ibon Cormenzana, Andrés Santana, Paolo Agazzi
Composer Lucio Godoy