|Robert LeRoy Parker/Butch Cassidy.|
Miguel Barros’s script brings this theory to life in Blackthorn (2011). Living on an isolated ranch in Bolivia the sixty one year old Butch Cassidy has changed his name to James Blackthorn, has a young live in Indian lover, Yana, and rears horses for a living. A peaceful contented lifestyle far removed from his past until he receives a letter informing him of the death, in America, of Etta Place. He starts corresponding with Etta’s son Ryan. Selling his horses and drawing out his life savings he decides to give Yana money to survive on and to travel back to America to see the boy who maybe or maybe not his son. On the way back from the bank a Spanish mining engineer Eduardo Apocada, who has robbed money from the owners of a local mine where he was employed, bushwhacks him. Blackthorn manages to over power the Spaniard but in the fracas he horse runs off with the very valuable saddlebags. Apocada offers to share his ill-gotten gains with the ex-outlaw to make up for the fact that Blackthorn has lost all his money. From this point onwards James Blackthorn life gets rather complicated coursing flashbacks from a previous life.
Directed by the Spanish screenwriter and director Mateo Gill it also stars as well as Sam Shepard, Eduardo Noriega, who I last saw in Brad Anderson’s thriller Transsiberian (2008) as the good looking Eduardo Apocada, the Irish film and stage actor Stephen Rea as Mackinley the Pinkerton agent who spent his drunken life looking for the notorious outlaw who he always believed to be still alive.
There are two things that really make this film really stand out; the first is Sam Shepard’s riveting performance as James Blackthorn/Butch Cassidy the epitome of an ageing outlaw, a man that shows his life on his grizzled weather beaten features, a man that grind out words rather than speak them. A very believable enactment by a great actor. The second is Juan Ruiz-Anchia’s cinematography who photographs the dusty towns, parched desert and shimmering salt flats just as well as the beautifully photogenic Bolivian landscape with its lush green vista. Highly recommended and a great addition to the modern western genre.