Monday, October 10, 2011
"Blackthorn" is a film that Paul Newman and Robert Redford can be proud of. It is directed by Mateo Gil who provides an amazing visual of the countryside in Bolivia that is rarely seen by an American audience. The film picks up several years after the final scene depicted in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) where the two bandits are in a shootout with the Bolivian Army in 1908. The facts surrounding the shootout have been disputed over the years providing for an alternative story to be told. Approximately 20 years later, Butch Cassidy is raising horses under the name James Blackthorn and living in the reclusive Bolivian mountains. Sam Shepard appears to be perfect in this performance as the one-time bandit who has the grit that Jeff Bridges portrayed in "True Grit". His wisdom is counter-balanced against the youth and deception of Eduardo (Eddie Noriega) who plays the engineer that has stolen from the Bolivian miners.
If you haven't seen the 1969 film, it is highly recommended. If nothing else you should watch the final scene that is considered one of the best endings in cinema. I have included the scene below for your enjoyment.
The film includes flashbacks throughout to provide an introspective view of how James Blackthorn became the man he is today. Included in these memories is the last time he saw his one-time love Etta Place (Dominique McElligott) before she left for San Francisco and the connection he has to his nephew that he has been writing to over the years. The casting for these flashbacks is very impressive in how similar Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Young Butch Cassidy) and Padraic Delaney (Young Sundance Kid) resemble the classic western depictions of Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The bond that the two bandits had was stronger than the love for the same woman and lives with him in his memories.
The acting from Eduardo Noriega is okay, but it is the performance of Stephen Rea as a former Pinkerton man that has never given up in his belief that Butch Cassidy didn't die during the shootout. Stephen Rea offers the same wisdom as well as the years of suffering that goes with his character. More could have been done with his character, but not sure it would have made the film better.
I don't anticipate this film getting much of an audience in the theaters as it is already getting an unusual distribution by being available on-demand at home first and now in limited theaters. I think that Sam Shepard gives one of his best performances since "The Right Stuff" in 1983. Given the distribution on this film, the normal scale doesn't exactly fit, however it should be a 4 Quack film.