Lina Lamont

"What do you think I am, dumb or something?"

Blackthorn

This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 8th April 2012

This unassuming yet enthralling film reimagines a conclusion to one of the most famous westerns of all time. Suppose Butch Cassidy didn’t die in 1908, but in fact spent the next 20 years living peaceably in Bolivia among the locals, an old and fading gringo of some means but no obvious ambition. Deciding to make one last visit to his erstwhile home, Butch (living in happy anonymity as James Blackthorn) is suddenly thrown into a partnership with a new “Kid”, robber Eduardo Apodaca (Eduardo Noriega), who imposes on the reluctant old-timer.

Sam Shepard (most recently seen in Safe House but in fact the hero of a film career spanning four decades) has virtually all the screen time, and legitimately so. With the exception of a few flashbacks dotted throughout to show Butch and Sundance in their younger gun-slinging days, this is Blackthorn’s story, and Shepard’s understated, soft-spoken charm is magnetic.

As in any good western, it’s as much about tone as action – sensational photography, aided by the beautiful Bolivian landscape, laps up rainforest, desert, authentic costuming and local faces, producing a wonderful evocation of 1920s South America.

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