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Canadian Premiere

  • Western
  • /
  • Spain / USA
  • /
  • 2011
  • /
  • 98 min
  • /
  • 35mm
  • /
  • English/spanish with English subtitles
Blackthorn Blackthorn Blackthorn Blackthorn Blackthorn Blackthorn

Official Selection, Tribeca Film Festival 2011
Official Selection, Shanghai International Film Festival 2011
Official Selection, Las Palmas International Film Festival 2011

Screening Times

“A classically minimalist Western... mythic... ravishing vistas” — Ronnie Scheib, VARIETY


Director: Mateo Gil
Screenplay: Miguel Barros
Cast: Sam Shepard, Eduardo Noriega, Magaly Solier, Stephen Rea
Producers: Jan Pace, Ibón Cormenzana, Andrés Santana, Paolo Agazzi
Print Source: Magnolia Pictures



A terrific, leisurely-paced Western about a geriatric Butch Cassidy (an Oscar-worthy Sam Shepard) in hiding, BLACKTHORN posits that the notorious bank robber did not die at the hands of the Bolivian army in 1908. Under the cover name James Blackthorn, the retired bandit has been living out his “golden years” in obscurity in the arid South American hills, but yearns to return Stateside and see his family before he shuffles off to that big ranch in the sky. His secret plans, however, go awry when an embezzler on the run (THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE’s Eduardo Noriega) crosses Blackthorn’s path. He loses his horse and life’s savings and must join forces with the mystery man who promises to share his own stolen money with the veteran bandit if he’ll lead him to safety out of the punishing desert. Various lawmen and posses on his tail (including Stephen Rea as a disgraced Pinkerton agent still on Butch’s scent all these years later), Blackthorn is off on one final adventure, culminating in a surprise revelation…

Spain’s Mateo Gil makes his English-language debut with BLACKTHORN, from a script by newcomer Miguel Barros telling a quietly moving and elegiac story. Euro genre buffs know Gil best for writing the great Spanish thrillers OPEN YOUR EYES, THESIS and NOBODY KNOWS ANYBODY. Cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchía’s gorgeous location lensing captures BLACKTHORN’s bygone era in high Sergio Leone style, and Shepard, never better, even sings his own raspy songs on the soundtrack. Besides Leone, Gil pays tribute to the cinema of John Ford and throws in a nod or two to director George Roy Hill’s 1969 classic BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. However, the (Spanish) accent in BLACKTHORN is not on traditional tropes of old Hollywood oaters but on the human drama. Shepard plays the revitalized Cassidy with quiet dignity (we also meet the flashback version, played by GAMES OF THRONES’ Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau). Despite his bank-robbing past and present complications as an accidental accomplice, Blackthorn’s a man with a strict moral code. With his contemplative stare and sparse dialog, playwright Shepard conveys all these subtle emotions beautifully.

—Tony Timpone

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