Blackthorn

Directed by Mateo Gil
  • France / Spain / US
  • 98 minutes

That classic freeze-frame at the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid notwithstanding, the famous outlaw apparently did not die in a shootout with the Bolivian army in 1908. That, at least, is the conceit of Blackthorn, which imagines Butch quietly living as a rancher twenty years later. Sam Shepard stars as the iconic character in this elegiac western that is less a sequel to George Roy Hill’s film than a meditation on age and a lost way of life. 

The film, directed by Spanish screenwriter/director Mateo Gil (Open Your Eyes), presents Butch living under the assumed name of James Blackthorn and enjoying the occasional dalliance with a local woman (Magaly Solier). But the peacefulness of his twilight years is marred by a desire to return to the US and be reunited with his son. He winds up pairing off with a Spanish thief, Eduardo (Eduardo Noriega), in a scheme to rob the local mine. But things don’t turn out quite as planned. A lawman (wonderfully played by Stephen Rea) has been pursuing him for decades.

Blackthorn is less interested in narrative than in displaying gorgeous vistas of the vast Bolivian countryside and showcasing Shepard’s grizzled, laconic presence. The actor delivers a beautifully understated, world-weary turn. - Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

Sam Shepard, Eduardo Noriega, Magaly Solier, Stephen Rea, Dominique McElligott