Release: 2nd November 2015
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
A bounty hunter (Michael Fassbender) keeps his true motive a secret from the naive Scottish teenager (Kodi Smit-McPhee) he’s offered to serve as bodyguard and guide while the youth searches for his beloved in 1800s Colorado.
The old school western is dead. That John Ford / John Wayne grandiose legend of the West is a thing of the past. It seems that the Western of today has to be a more knowing affair. Whether it’s the silliness of a True Grit, dreamlike experience of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, or pure gore and grit like The Salvation, the epic operas of the old world have been flayed in favor of modern myth. Even Tommy Lee Jones’ The Homesman was more about feminism than cowboys and indians. The Wild West is now seen through the lens of something pertaining to a mixture of fairy tales and realism. Never was that more evident than with John Maclean’s Slow West.
From its dreary etherial opening moments to its heart wrenching Looney Toons finally, Slow West is a contradiction of fable and mundane road movie. Maclean plays with the themes and elements we hold most dear about the genre, but at times forgets to put his toys away. The constant zipping between flippancy and sobriety can be wearing, beyond that is nothing; leaving just a performance between two men. Slow West is a film that lives and dies with its two leads.
Fassbender barely gets by with his ropy American accent, and in spite of his many strengths as an actor; free-wheeling gun for hire doesn’t quite fit his repertoire. Kodi Smit-McPhee meanders and drips his way through the story, and it is only in the film’s closing moments that the layers of his work finally come to notice; giving the end of the film way more punch than its first two acts. Even the epic strengths of Ben Mendelsohn never quite come in to bloom. One might argue this is a display of auto-pilot for the strong cast.
For a début feature, Slow West is a terrific accomplishment. It is mature and calculated, but as part of the modern Western pantheon, there isn’t enough being said beyond its striking visuals to warrant a second viewing.
Film Grade: C+
Not available at time of going to press. But they include;
- “On Strange Land: Making Slow West” featurette
- Deleted Scenes