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  • It's 1870. 16 year old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is alone leaving Scotland to chase after his love Rose Ross (Caren Pistorius) into the American West. He encounters native villagers who are hunted by Indian fighters. Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender) rescues him from the ruffians. Silas insists on traveling with the naive boy. Silas discovers that Rose and her father have a $2000 bounty on their heads. Payne (Ben Mendelsohn) leads a ragtag team looking to take the bounty.

    It's a New Zealand/UK western. It's a slow burning road trip. There are big explosive scenes but mostly it's quiet. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Michael Fassbender are a low energy duo. The robbery of the general store is quite intense. The action scenes are shot stylistically rather than with intensity. I didn't really get involved with the characters but there are a couple of good scenes. It's the first full-length feature for director/writer John Maclean.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Western is not a genre anymore that is on par with the likes of drama, comedy, animation etc. in terms of quantity. So it's nice to see a western film here and there that is actually a decent watch. It would be great to have at least one quality western per year. Last year we had Mads Mikkelsen's "Salvation" and even if "Slow West" is not as a good, it is still a contender for best western film of 2015. The cast is pretty multi-cultural. Smit-McPhee is Australian just like Mendelsohn, Fassbender is German, Pistorius (still fairly unknown, but bound to rise) is from New Zealand. The film's director John Maclean is British and actually worked with Fassbender on a short film before, but not the one that won Maclean a BAFTA. For him it's the first full feature movie as writer and director. He has written songs, however, for feature films in the past.

    "Slow West" only runs for 84 minutes and that already includes 5 minutes of closing credits, a pretty short movie. That is not a problem at all as it is significantly better this way than with including a couple more pointless scenes and having it run for 100 minutes. The cast was good as a whole I might say. Fassbender may have been the best, but there was no real standout just like nobody was bad either. You could maybe divide this film into 3 sections, the first one being about the two main characters going closer and their journey, the second one being about Mendelsohn's character entering the picture and the last sequence being the finale with the duo (and their tail) reaching their destination and the final spectacular shootout scene. However, apart from that one and a couple more scenes, this is actually a fairly slow movie just like the title implies already. I had a good time watching and recommend this to those who love themselves a quality western occasionally just like I do.
  • Like the title suggests, the film has a slow pace as it moves on its quest through the western landscape. The plot sees an idealistic young man seeking out his love who fled to America to escape a crime. The young man is joined by an older, more cynical man - unaware that he has joined him to use the young man to lead him to the girl and her father in order to collect the bounty on their heads. It unfolds in an episodic manner within this overall sweep.

    The result is a film that is engaging in the most part, has plenty of good western tropes, and is short enough not to make the slow pace hard to take. That said, it also is meandering, doesn't amount to too much, and seems more interested in the episodic oddity of itself than it does making something cohesive. I think it will depend on the individual how that works; for me personally I felt the strengths of that outweighed the weaker aspects. The tone carried it for me, although I didn't think the ending worked particularly well as part of the total package. It is beautifully filmed, which is one of the western aspects it uses. Within the landscape the cast are generally good, but it is the work from Smit-McPhee and Fassbender that makes the majority of it work. When you are with them as a viewer, the film is enjoyable and carries itself.

    Not a film that really hits its mark, Slow West still offers a nicely engaging slow pace which plays out with good tone and pace, even if it doesn't feel like it comes together as a whole.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Jay (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a young Sottish lad traveling in Colorado chasing down his lost love Rose (Caren Pistorius). An incident in Scotland caused Rose and her father to flee. The story picks up in Colorado with Jay, an educated young man, way in over his head. After a confrontation, he ends up riding with Silas (Michael Fassbender) a bounty hunter in a land filled with thieves, murderers, bounty hunters, and unhappy Native Americans. 20 minutes into the film we know our drama can only end in tragedy as we wait to see it unfold. Jay is full of hope and a strong character and we wonder if he can change what appears to be inevitable.

    The film moved at a moderate pace, just enough to keep us hanging on. Good performance by Fassbender.

    Score: Sex 0; F-bomb 1; nude butts 2. Rating :R
  • kosmasp31 December 2015
    There is a reason the word "slow" is in the title. Don't expect this to be guns blazing the whole time. Though I was surprised by the running time. I thought this was going to be at least a two hour affair. But the short time works for the movie and the slow build up to a climax that does reward the viewing.

    The acting is great too and even some choices do make sense, if you think about them after its revealed why characters chose to do what they did. It's still a bleak affair and might not feel as engaging as some might want it to be. Acting is amazing and everything fits (not only the wardrobe that is, but everything). Who said "Western" is dead?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's more than a good thing that we've gotten beyond the formulaic Westerns of the Thirties, Forties, Fifties and Sixties. The last couple decades or so have seen a host of revisionist Westerns that capture the real grit and grime of an era gone by, with films like "Unforgiven", "3:10 to Yuma" and "Appaloosa" coming immediately to mind. Romantic notions of a solitary life lived on the trail are quickly dispelled by the murderous intentions of outlaws living from day to day and taking their spoils as they come.

    The unlikely pairing of young Scot Jay Cavendish (Jody Smit-McPhee) and gunslinger Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender) defies normal Western conventions, and as we come to learn, Silas has an ulterior motive for befriending the naïve young traveler. The object of Jay's love is wanted for murder along with her father, as the Rosses attempt to elude a host of bounty hunters and killers in the American West of the 1870's. Silas is one of these bounty men.

    The story turns normal Western conventions on their head, as early on, Silas inhumanely leaves two orphaned children to fend for themselves on the prairie. That their mother was shot in the back by Jay Cavendish seems to be of no concern, a coming of age moment for the young Scotsman who must live with his guilt and keep moving because he has no other options.

    The irony of the finale occurs when Rose Ross (Caren Pistorius) reflexively shoots her former beau while under attack by Payne's marauders. She offers brief redemption by secretly handing off her weapon to the dying Cavendish who ends the attack by fatally shooting Payne (Ben Mendelsohn). Coming full circle, Silas takes up with the young woman to start a new life, complete with the orphans who made it as far as he had. The ending perhaps is a concession to tying things up in a neat package and may not ring entirely true for some viewers, though it allows Silas to fulfill his character as an honorable man.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film, set in 1870, follows sixteen year old Jay Cavendish who has left his native his native Scotland to find his beloved Rose who is now living in the American West. When we meet him he is in the west and shortly afterwards meets Silas, a bounty hunter who agrees to take him to Rose. It soon becomes apparent that Silas has other reasons for wanting to find Rose; she and her father have a bounty on their heads for the murder of Jay's wealthy uncle back in Scotland. As the pair progress west it soon becomes apparent that other bounty hunters are heading the same way and just about everybody we see is dangerous in some way. As our protagonists and various bounty hunters approach the remote cabin where Rose and her father now live a violent ending seems inevitable; the only real question is who will survive?

    Anybody expecting a classic western where the heroes are good and the villains are bad will be in for a bit of a surprise; this doesn't romanticise the old west; it shows it as a dangerous place where nobody is really good. Early on we see Jay shoot a woman who was pointing a gun at Silas in a trading post then leave her two young children with nobody to care for them. We later see that the supposed villains have taken then in. Knowing that Silas is after the bounty on Rose means we never know if he can be trusted not to turn on Silas at some point. While there are several characters this is mainly about Jay and Silas; Kodi Smit-McPhee and Michael Fassbender both impress in these roles. There isn't much in the way of gore but there are some shocking moments; none more so than the finale when everybody converges on Rose's cabin. The action may be set in the American west but was filmed in far-off New Zealand… something I suspect most viewers won't notice; I just noticed how beautiful it all looked. Writer/director does a fine job keeping the action taut and doesn't stretch the material too far… at only eighty minutes is distinctly short but making it longer would probably have just meant padding it with unnecessary material… and sometimes one only has time for a short film! Overall I enjoyed this more than expected.
  • This film tells the story of a young man who goes all the way from Scotland to America to reunite with the woman he loves. However, the windscreen turns out to be an outlaw with a bounty on her. The his search for her becomes perilous for both him and her.

    "Slow West" is a beautiful film with lots of great natural scenery, and almost perpetual sunny weather. Many scenes are so beautiful that I wish I have a view like that from my home. The story is interesting because of the good ending which is thought provoking and sigh provoking.

    I have to say I'm not a fan of Western films because almost everyone dies in these films. Life is not treasured by anyone. In here life is not treasured, but at least there is some love.
  • Slow West is written and directed by John Maclean. It stars Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, Caren Pistorius and Rory McCann. Music is by Jed Kurzel and cinematography by Robbie Ryan.

    It's the late 1800s and a teenage Scottish aristocrat travels to the American West to track down the girl he loves with all his heart...

    There has been a number of modern day directors who have not only refused to let the Western genre die, but also to not be afraid to take it to a harshness of the West level. They have chosen to strip it back to a sense of realism, with no frills and bunting, just a show of tough times populated by tough people and people tough out of luck. Slow West is one such Oater.

    For his first full length feature, John Maclean has chosen to make a genre of film he clearly knows something about. It's got some familiar tropes - greenhorn, grizzled bounty hunter, deadly gang et al, but Maclean has still made a fresh picture, one that not only intrigues and excites, but also humours by way of some black comedy inserts.

    Essentially it's a travelogue piece, McPhee's lovelorn Jay Cavendish ends up being escorted on his journey by Fassbender's mysterious tough guy Silas Selleck. It's an odd yet engaging pairing, and as they are pursued by Selleck's old gang, and they come across a number of eccentric or devious characters, you may find yourself hoping that all the hidden agendas - the secrets bubbling away in the background - do not shatter the surrogate relationship neither was looking for.

    His heart was in the wrong place.

    Ah, but yes! Maclean shows gumption to go all mud and blood on our butts, building everything to a quite terrific final quarter of film that has rode in on a black stallion straight from noirville. No printing the legend here, it's a bitter commentary on the romanticised view of the Old West. Western fans keen of ear will pick up on some historically spiky dialogue exchanges, whilst also noting the nods towards the immigration angles, where Maclean doesn't pull punches as to how desperate the Old West was for many of those who travelled hoping for a better life.

    Predominantly filmed in New Zealand (superbly standing in for the American West), the panoramic cinematography is stunning, while it's great to see the backdrops are not just mountainous desert scapes, this journey goes through forestry as well. Cast are on prime form, Fassbender seems to be a given these days and it's hoped he will do a Western again, and McPhee plays off of him with genuine conviction. Then there's Mendelsohn, who has to be one of the finest Australian character actors working today, he's perfectly cast here, so his fans know exactly what they will be getting.

    The poster art is hugely frustrating, showing Caren Pistorius with a big beaming smile on her face, that is very much a bum steer. You would be wise to take more note of the faces of Messrs McPhee, Fassbender and Mendelsohn on that poster, for their facial portraits are more in keeping with this cracker-jack Western. 9/10
  • John Maclean ? Yes I remember him . Keyboard player of the Beta Band who were undoubtedly one of the most underrated bands in the Indie genre and a band who refused to be pigeonholed which sadly meant they made innovative and great music but weren't rewarded with the material success they deserved . Nice to see Maclean is trying a second career as screenwriter and film director . Unfortunately SLOW WEST probably won't gain Maclean much attention outside of a cult market

    The problem lies in the disjointed manner of the storytelling . It's trying to be a quirky , idiosyncratic , black comedy and any humour appearing is very black indeed but it's too offbeat to be entirely successful . Going back to the disjointed manner it follows the exploits of young immigrant Jay Cavindish who travels through 1870s America in order to meet fellow Scot immigrant Rose Ross and he meets many colourful characters but very few of these characters have anything to do with the plot and you could re-edit this film in any random order and it wouldn't make much difference to the story

    Another peculiar aspect is casting Kodi Smit McPhee as Jay . McPhee is Australian and to be fair to him he does a fairly Scottish convincing accent . That said his accent disappears towards the end of the film and one wonders why the Scottish director didn't cast a native Scot in the role of John Ross played by Rory McCann
  • In the Anti-Tradition of "Bone Tomahawk" (2015), first time Director MacLean makes No Bones about this being an Off-Kilter and Out of Step take on the Genre and delivers a Distinctively Different Tale of Traveling Men on a Torturous Journey.

    Michael Fassbender and His Star Power might get Fans to give this one a Look, and that's a Good Thing because this is a B-Picture that is an Off-Beat Treat for Seekers of the Unusual and Lovers of "Film as Art".

    Kodi Smit-McPhee (what a name) plays a Character that is Certainly Out of His Element in the Dirty and Unforgiving Setting, wearing a Suit and His Education quite well. A Determined Demeanor and Youthful Exuberance Propels Him on a Quest for 'His true Love".

    The Film is Full of Strange Occurrences and is Metaphorical, Surreal, and totally Engaging. Beautifully Shot and Despite its Differentness will most likely be Fulfilling for Western Movie Fans and those not Usually Drawn to the Genre.

    Violent, Poetic, and filled with much Black Humor, this is one that is worth Finding. It's a Foreign Film that Feels Foreign and that adds to its Dream-Like Ambiance.

    Don't be put off by the this Flowery Review and the Artsy Appeal and take a chance on a Little Movie that is a Big Deal and helps keep the Western Movie on the Map for Moderns.
  • Teenage boy Jay(Smit-McPhee, who sees things in a unique way) left Scotland for America, to reunite with his girlfriend, Rose(Pistorius, a realist). He meets Silas(Fassbender, getting his Eastwood on), and together, they try to find her.

    In some ways, this is reminiscent of The Road, with Kodi still playing a youth who isn't quite ready to deal with the world that he exists in. Sometimes a while will pass, where you barely run into anyone at all. No one stays innocent, and if you continue to attempt to do so, you will end up dying an early death. This is gorgeously shot, from the days drenched in scorching sunlight, to the murky dark nights. Like in reality, this is an old West where everyone but the Native Americans came there from another country, and that still shows. Some left to find their luck, but were unable to, while others were trying to escape something in their past, and may be unable to. A country where you never know who you can trust. And a peaceful situation can turn dangerous, even deadly, at a moment's notice. Even for people who devoted their lives to peace. And at the same time, it's impossible to get by, if you never depend on anyone else.

    There is some bloody violence and a little strong language in this. I recommend this to fans of unusual Westerns. 8/10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When Rose, the girl Jay loves, flees with her father from Scotland to America in the wake of a death for which they will be blamed, Jay follows in search of her. Hopelessly ill-equipped for his journey, he falls in with the hardened and cynical Silas who agrees to guide him. But there is a bounty on Rose's head, and Silas is a bounty hunter...

    This western is short, simple and leisurely. The entire cast, heading by Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jay and Michael Fassbender as Silas, is excellent. Filmed by a non-American crew on location in New Zealand and Scotland, and with an international cast portraying mostly immigrants, it has a peculiar feel for a western, with familiar tropes filtered through alien sensibilities. But that doesn't change the fact that it is a first rate movie from writer and first-time director John Maclean, which works on a number of levels - romance, buddy movie, shocker, with occasional laughs and an action finale. And everything works together.

  • Greetings again from the darkness. Every now and then a movie catches us off guard as the tone shifts during the story progression. The first feature film from writer/director John Maclean is an example of this, and even more impressive in the manner that it delivers contradicting and overlapping tones through much of its run time. Balancing life and death tension with laugh out loud comedic elements requires a deft touch, and Maclean proves his mettle.

    Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road, Let Me In) stars as Jay Cavendish a young Irish man traveling westward across the old west Colorado frontier to find his true love Rose (Caren Pistorius). Jay's babyface, naïve approach and trusting nature make his survival dubious at best … at least until he hires a grizzled gunslinger named Silas (Michael Fassbender) to act as his guide and protector. There is vital information about Rose known to all but Jay, which leads us to not be so trusting of Silas' motives in sticking with the young man.

    The trail provides the expected hardships and a reluctant bond between the two opposites. Some of the tension is created by crossing paths with a couple of bounty hunters … one a long range dead-eye who sports a priest collar, and the other a nasty sort played by the always dangerous Ben Mendelsohn who leads the gang Silas once rode with.

    Jay's mission to find Rose is quite a romantic quest, but the effective use of flashbacks and dreams tells us more of the story, and in particular, why Rose and her dad (Rory McCann) are on the run. So as this tension builds, the startling and abrupt use of off-the-wall humor takes us viewers out of our comfort zone and into the unusual place of utter surprise at the back and forth between violence, romantic notions and laughter.

    Fassbender and Smit-McPhee are both excellent in their roles, and relative newcomer Pistorius oozes with potential. Jed Kurzel's (The Babadook) music effectively adds to both the drama and comedy, and the script is smart and funny – a rare combination these days. It's likely that viewers will feel guilty for some of the laughs, but that just adds to the ingenuity of Mr. Maclean. Even the body count tally forces one additional guilty laugh from us before leaving the theatre. Very well done.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Taking a look on Netflix UK,I discovered that on the same day that Netflix's Adam Sandler Western (!)The Ridiculous 6 was put on the site,that another 2015 Western had appeared,which led to me getting ready to enter the Wild West,slowly.

    View on the film:

    Making his debut,the screenplay by John Maclean (who directed a music vid for his brother David's band Django Django) soaks the film in a dour,Gothic atmosphere,with Maclean's opening of flashbacks to Scotland giving Cavendish's search for Rose Ross a doom-laden coat.

    Keeping the movie to a handful of characters, Maclean counters the warm sincerity of Cavendish with the rustic grit of Selleck,who sees Cavendish's love as a road to a fistful of dollars.

    Helping to bring the film into town after working with Maclean on a short film,Michael Fassbender gives an excellent performance as Selleck,with Fassbender placing a gap between Selleck & Cavendish with a firm belief that the rules of the West outlaw everything else in life.

    Finding himself alone in the Wild West, Kodi Smit-McPhee gives a great performance as Cavendish,thanks to Smit-McPhee's keeping Cavendish's love-struck warmth burning to the titles parting shots.

    Opening with stars dashing across the screen, Maclean & Robbie Ryan gives the Wild West a superb,strange atmosphere. Set in the US (with Scottish leads) and filmed in New Zealand,Maclean and Ryan give the title a tense supernatural atmosphere,with "paper windows" and mysteriously disappearing outlaws placing Cavendish's search half way into an alt world. Showing the beautiful New Zealand landscape (does it ever look bad?) in stylish, restrained shots,Mclean gives the movie a starkly haunting post-apocalypse appearance.

    Avoiding any salons or bar room brawls,Mclean makes the outdoor locations look like nature is reclaiming the Wild West,as Selleck and Cavendish find themselves surrounded by wilderness for miles,with brittle gunshots being the only thing to break the silence of the slow West.
  • deloudelouvain17 February 2016
    There are way too much good ratings for this movie. It's really not that special at all. If I give it a six star rating it's because of the filming. The way of filming is very good. Nothing bad to say about that. But the story is just not good enough to get such a high rating. It's very slow and sometimes with very dumb passages. The cast is not bad, far from, but it's nothing exceptional either. I can get that people like the movie for the way it is filmed but to me the story is primordial in a movie. And Slow West is just an average western. It's not the worse one I saw but certainly not one I will remember. Too bad the story was not better.
  • This is one of those metaphorical movies where every scene, every dialog, every character may mean something unrelated to the supposed plot. The acting is good, the script very careful to detail and up to the - very slow - ending, you wonder what the movie will be about. The direction and editing are top notch, too.

    But is there a moral to the story? There are many. They are peppered throughout the film. This is not one of those "let's watch the first and last scenes so we know what this is about" movies. It unfolds like a book, self referencing and adding meaning way before it reaches the climax. It grows like dough in the oven.

    Truth is that except the slow pacing, and the slightly unsatisfying - but truly original - ending, it was almost perfect. I loved it.
  • Made in New Zealand's amazing landscape it resemble an american west territory, the director provides a colorful amazing scenes, the plot in quite original at least, but there so many holes along of the movie that spoils clearly that made some damages without repair as the new brand house, could they made some kind of greying in the woods, some lines spoken poetically are unusual in such period of time, the Angel's face boy contrast with ruthless bounty hunter, l've trying figure out among the clues left behind, a beautiful movie notwithstanding cruel scenes worth to spend one hour and half watching an original neo western!!


    First watch: 2018 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 7
  • "His spirit was true. There is more to life than survival. Jay Cavendish taught me that. I owe him my life. Ho for the West." Silas (Michael Fassbender, narrating)

    On any pandemic day, getting out into the wide-open spaces is a therapy. Well, so is seeing a minimalist western, Slow West, beautifully photographed with plenty of non-virus space to breathe. Only, it's filmed in non-polluted New Zealand and set in 1870. That's therapy.

    With Silas narrating, a small story of genre-specific questing and survival (see quote above) unfolds in a fascinating 84 minutes, replete with tropes like the sensitive, greenhorn kid, the jaded older companion, and the grizzled gang pursuing them. And a woman as the object of young Jay's (Kodi Smit-McPhee) pursuit, Rose (Caren Pistorius), is much more trouble than she looks.

    Throw in some "Injun Slayers" and other disreputable types, and you have a typical Western that somehow seems fresh and up to date. This West may be slow, but it has the integrity evidenced in the opening quote and a clarity absent from our polluted, parlous times.

    It's possible the universal appeal of this oater comes from the French patois of the little Haitian band the two travelers encounter on the trail or that Silas sees Jay needs a "chaperone," or that immigration is a major player in the Westward Ho. At any rate 150 years later, immigration still carries its romance and its injustice.

    In addition, with the mention of Darwin, first time writer/director and former musician John Maclean makes certain we know the survival of the fittest was true in the wild West as it is in modern inequality times. Unlike great but bleak Westerns like Unforgiven or 3:10 to Yuma, Slow West reminds us of the beauty, promise, and danger of post-Civil-War migration to less than a promised land.

    This worthy entry is helped from its cliché-bound story by Michael Fassbender's tough survivor and Ben Mendelson's soulless bounty hunter, Payne, both actors of grave presence who embody the contradictions of that promised land. A gentle yet powerful tale so oft' told but never so new.
  • 'SLOW WEST': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

    A western/coming-of-age tale; about a 16-year-old Scottish boy, traveling across 19th century America, in search of the woman he loves. The film was written and directed by first time feature filmmaker John Maclean. It stars Kodi Smit-McPhee and Michael Fassbender (Fassbender also starred in two previous short films, written and directed by Maclean). The movie is quirky, touching and violent (in a disturbing but moving way).

    Jay Cavendish is a 16-year-old boy from Scotland; who makes his way to America, in the late 1800s. While in search of the young woman he loves, Jay meets an outlaw, named Silas Selleck (Fassbender). Silas allows the boy to tag along with him, in exchange for cash. On their trek they meet a lot of unique, and dangerous, characters. Jay and Silas also learn a lot about life, from each other.

    The movie is very dark and violent, in places (like I said); but it's also touching and beautifully shot (the cinematography is gorgeous). Fassbender and Smit-McPhee are both outstanding in the lead roles, and I'm surprised Fassbender let the younger actor take top billing (considering he's more famous, and he also served as an executive producer on the movie). The film also has a good supporting turn from Ben Mendelsohn, in a villainous role. It's definitely an impressive debut, from John Maclean!

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  • "Slow West" may announce itself as an art-house western and one hailing from New Zealand rather than Hollywood at that, but it is still magnificent and not simply one of the best films I've seen this year but one of the great westerns. It may signal its young writer/director John Maclean, (making his feature debut), as being in thrall of his elders, and some might say at this stage, his betters as well as taking his cues from the likes of "McCabe and Mrs Miller" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" but here is a film full of imagination as well as virtuoso technique that merits serious critical attention. There is also a large helping of "True Grit" to its plot with young greenhorn Kodi Smit-McPhee journeying West in the company of bounty hunter and killer Michael Fassbender in search of his true love, encountering other bounty hunters, outlaws and Indians on the way.

    Dialogue is sparse and poetical with both Smit-McPhee and Fassbender acting as our narrators, very much in the style of early Malick while the film is as visually gorgeous and as inventive as anything in the Malick oeuvre, (the DoP is Robbie Ryan). There is also a terrific score by Jed Kurzel. The two leads are first-rate and there's a wonderfully laid-back performance from Ben Mendelsohn as one of the films many villains, (indeed, everyone in this film is a killer of one kind or another). If the territory it explores isn't particularly new, (even the surreal asides feel somehow familiar), Maclean's handling of the material is outstanding and scene after scene lodges in the memory. In a year that has also seen Tommy Lee Jones' magnificent "The Homesman", who says the western is dead?
  • 'Slow West (2015)' is a character-focused, slightly revisionist western that's refreshingly unconventional and unafraid to be so, for better and for worse. Its biggest issue is perhaps the one it tells you about up-front; it's strange that it feels as slow as it does considering its relatively short length (eighty-four minutes). Still, never exactly boring, far from it, and it's subversiveness really is a strong asset in an overcrowded market. 7/10
  • If anyone needs extra proof that the western is a living and ever-renewing cinematic genre, then they can watch 'Slow West' (2015), the debut and the only feature film made so far by Scottish director John Maclean. It is a film that combines the idilic views of the great spaces of the road to the West from the classic American westerns with the gloomy and violent comedy of the recent productions of the Coen brothers and of Tarantino. However, the obvious model is that of Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns. We also deal here with an international production with an American actor in the role of the (almost) invincible cowboy. This combination, concentrated in less than 90 minutes, is perhaps the best film of its kind made in the last decade.

    The story is incredible, but isn't American history a mosaic of thousands of such incredible stories of adventure and discovery? Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a 16-year-old boy from a Scottish noble family, travels to America after the Civil War in search of his girlfriend and her father, both wanted by law and bounty hunters. His journey to the moving borders of Western America will be a journey of discovery of a continent full of dangers, of a nation in formation composed of a human mosaic of languages, customs and especially characters, and a path of coming to age and encounter with the violent realities of life and with the wickedness and rapacity of people. On his way he meets Sillas Selleck (Michael Fassbender), also a bounty hunter and a guy who is on the edge of the law, not clear which side, who offers to be his guide and protector to reach those they are looking for. Does he do it selflessly, or rather to get the $ 2,000 reward offered to those who will capture the father and daughter, dead or alive?

    It's not a typical western story, but that's how most screenplays of films of this genre made in recent decades are. Jay Cavendish matures before our eyes, learns not to trust anyone because those who seem to be the 'good guys' turn out to be crooks or even criminals and anyone who wants to survive may be forced to kill in order not to be killed. The role is played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, a young actor who has also grown up since he played the role of the child in the post-apocalyptic melodrama 'The Road' and who creates an excellent role here. Michael Fassbender (who is also the producer) plays the role of Silas with obvious pleasure, with a reverence for similar roles made by Clint Eastwood decades ago. Robbie Ryan's cinematography is superb, both in the exteriors where New Zealand disguises itself in Colorado, but also in some interiors, with many memorable frames and creative and bold filming angles. There is no lack of humor, and the gallery of secondary characters composes a mosaic of the American West populated by adventurers and crooks from all over the world. The only dissonant note was the appearance of Caren Pistorius who interprets the role of Rose, the girl after whom Jay travels the world. Her interpretation is OK, but her makeup and especially the eyebrows are very 21st century-like and contrast with the authenticity of the rest of the film. However this is a minor observation in comparison with the many good reasons why 'Slow West' deserves to be seen by fans of the western genre and not only by them.
  • ThomasDrufke18 September 2015
    Slow West is a story about a young man wanting to reunite with his long love but has to travel long ways to do it in 19th century western America. The problem is at this particular time out west it's extremely hard to live by traveling on horseback day and night, especially by yourself as a late teen. So Kodi Smit-McPhee, playing the young and inexperienced Jay, comes across Silas, played by Michael Fassbender and they each take on the journey to find his love, Rose.

    Of course, once you find out more about Rose and her father, the film gets a whole lot more interesting. But at face value, the film is pretty basic anyway. It's an independent film with a low budget and in turn the run-time is a breezy 84 minutes. Which is good because it's an easy watch, but there's also not a ton of backstory so you don't get a chance to get to know the characters as well as I may have liked. McPhee and Fassbender give great performances and set a coming of age feel to the film. I always love the stories of two characters who view life vastly different, and by the end of the film have learned a thing or two from each other (ironically both of them are now X-Men teammates). Fassbender definitely puts to rest any critics of him being in a western, myself actually being one of them.

    This film being very short was probably my biggest issue, the story itself doesn't have any holes because it's so basic. But a very good debut for director John Maclean. I love his depiction of the dead or dead lifestyle of 19th century western America. In all, Slow West is a nice little Indi and another great performance from Fassbender.

    +Fassbender can do anything

    +McPhee shows promise


    -Too short

  • Splendidly photographed, methodically paced & brilliantly directed, Slow West arrives as a pleasant surprise in the genre of westerns for it features a very straightforward premise but beneath that simple-looking plot lies hordes of themes that one usually associates with the legacy of the Wild West and for a debut feature, it's a pretty impressive final product.

    Set in the 1870s, the story of Slow West follows a young Scottish fellow who travels across America in pursuit of the woman he loves and after an unexpected incident, finds himself in the company of a bounty hunter who's willing to take him to his destination. As they further head into the West, it soon becomes clear that both of them are looking for the same thing but for different reasons.

    Written & directed by John Maclean, Slow West marks his filmmaking debut and there's no denying that it's a very impressive start to his career. Maclean's work exhibits a restrained, careful & patient approach in handling the scripted material and despite the simple setting, his subtle addressing of the American West themes offers some nice food for thought. And it's gonna be interesting to see where he journeys from here.

    The exotic, lush locations of New Zealand stand in for the American West and is exquisitely photographed by its camera. Its colourful surroundings are beautifully captured and its fab use of bright colour tones only adds greater enhancements to those images. Its 84 minutes of runtime is deliberately slowed down to provide a more immersive experience, and finally, the background score stays in congruence with the unfolding action.

    Coming to the performances, Slow West features a fine cast in Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, Caren Pistorius & Rory McCann, and all do an adequate job in their given roles. Smit-McPhee is still unable to express any other emotion than the ever- afraid one which at times suited his character here. Fassbender is the real deal and does a terrific job with what he's given, and the input from the rest of its cast is good enough.

    On an overall scale, Slow West is definitely amongst the better indie films released this year and begins Maclean's filmmaking career on a promising note. Crafted with care, composure & precision craftsmanship, smeared with wry sense of humour, even more augmented by its gorgeous backgrounds & ingenious use of camera, carried by an assured performance from Fassbender, and succeeding as a rich, refreshing & riveting example of its genre, Slow West is a surprising delight for western aficionados.
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