I found two great reasons for watching this take on Butch Cassidy, post-Paul Newman: first, the marvelously cast Sam Shepard, as Butch; and second, the unreal cinematography of Juan Ruiz Anchia, who shoots the Bolivian landscape as a cross between John Ford‘s Monument Valley and David Lean‘s Arabian desert.
As you may remember from the classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (or, if you don’t, the film helpfully provides flashbacks), Butch, Sundance, and Etta Place all escaped to Bolivia, albeit with much mystery as to their respective ends. Blackthorn posits that Butch spent the following twenty years in Bolivia, until he was inexorably pulled back to the U.S. in 1928. Most of the film follows his eventful journey back, with stumbles over lost savings (from train robberies, obviously), a new partner/nemesis, and an ex-Pinkerton man, played by an always welcome Stephen Rea.
The drama is mildly diverting, but again, the thrill is in watching the criminally underappreciated Sam Shepard take on this iconic role (even though he may not physically resemble Newman, is there another actor with the necessary gravity and charisma?). Don’t forget, this is also the playwright who represented the American military machine with a giant rattlesnake on stage! – [DVD]
DVD Release Date: 12/20/11