Slow West (2015) Mini Review

“That kid was a wonder. He saw things differently. To him, we were in a land of hope and good will.”

Directed by: John Maclean

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, Rory McCann, Caren Pistorius

Synopsis: Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) ventures out from his Scottish homeland to find his beloved Rose Ross (Caren Pistorius) in the harsh American West. Along the way he teams up with Fassbender’s Silas, a bounty hunter with an an ulterior motive: the bounty that’s been placed on Rose’s head.

Michael Fassbender as Silas and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jay.
Michael Fassbender as Silas and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jay.

On a first glance, Slow West is a simple story of love and redemption, but in truth it’s one brimming with heart, soul and plenty of smarts. Hefty themes like the class divide and culture are tackled deftly, with each character’s actions holding weight and the decisions they make having repercussions. It’s a dark, harsh world we live in.

With Fassbender putting in a performance which makes you wish he was playing Woverine in the X-Men films rather than Magneto, a beautifully understated turn from Smit-McPhee, and the enchanting backdrop of the desolate desert landscape of the American West, there’s a great deal to like here. It’s a film which is steadfastly focused in its approach, quietly confident, yet refined and trimmed almost to a fault, with Ben Mendelssohn’s excellent villain Payne feeling underserved.

Yet, Slow West is most definitely a resounding victory for debutant director John Maclean. It’s at times a little too heavy-handed with the irony, but it’s also really quite clever, deeply tragic and moving. A rather impressive first effort indeed.

Rating (out of 5):

4 Stars

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