Film Review – Slow West (2015)

Slow - post

Title – Slow West (2015)

Director – John Maclean (feature debut)

Cast – Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Mendelsohn, Caren Pistorius, Rory McCann

Plot – Young Scottish lad Jay Cavendish (Smit-McPhee) travels to the wilds of America in search of the girl he loves Rose Ross (Pistorius), who without his knowledge has become a wanted person in the harsh surrounds of the Wild West. Joining Jay on his task is seasoned western campaigner Silas Selleck (Fassbender) who has conflicting motives for helping Jay on his trek.  

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

Review by Eddie on 12/08/2015

A curious and definitely promising debut from young British filmmaker John Maclean, Slow West is a darkly funny trip to the Wild West that sadly never actually fully feels like it is a proper Western due to obvious budget constraints and the fact is was actually filmed in the wide open spaces of the ever picturesque New Zealand.

Not an out and out dramatic picture and not by any stretch a laugh out loud comedy, Slow West walks to its own unique beat and has a care free attitude that embeds Maclean’s journey with an affable charm. It’s great to see the background of the Wild West used in such a way that it is here and while it would’ve been nice as mentioned for the film to actually legitimately feel like a “western,” it’s always refreshing to see up and coming directing talents make use of their talents in ways that we don’t expect.

The tale of young and in love Jay Cavendish (played by the in-and-out-of-Scottish-accent sporting Australian Kodi-Smit McPhee) and his travels in the dangerous wilds of the West, looking for the love of his life Rose Ross, plays out in a non-confirmative way that is unafraid to be both blunt and quirky not to mention Coen-esque in the way its characters appear and disappear within the story. Surrounded by the increasingly charismatic Michael Fassbender as one time gang member Silas Selleck and with solid support from a pimped out looking Ben Mendelsohn and a non-facial scarred Hound from Game of Thrones in the form of Rory McCann, Slow West attracted a solid and on song group of actors that help it through it’s more average moments and suggest that Maclean is a filmmaker who will quickly be working with the industry’s elite.

Well written, beautifully shot and acted with professionalism from a recognisable cast, Slow West is a curious Western that’s both enjoyable and sometimes frustrating and a film that could’ve quite easily been something truly special. It never comes off as passing as a genuine Western tale thanks to its locational use but nevertheless does a fine job of providing us all with a reminder of the ways in which the genre can be used to such entertaining effects.

3 ½ unlucky lumberjacks out of 5

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18 responses to “Film Review – Slow West (2015)

  1. Hi Eddie – Great review of one of my favourite movies of the year so far. It was great to see a Western that didn’t rely too much on the usual tricks and stereotypes to tell its story, and which wasn’t too worried if you didn’t like the characters. And like you, I think Maclean has an interesting career ahead of him.

  2. Beauty, it had in abundance. Beauty does not in any way, shape or form make up for unlikeable characters. Aside from the Coen/Tarantino-esque violence and ridiculousness, I had a hard time appreciating this film. Slow West felt more like an art film than a western. I can’t say I’ll ever want to watch it again.

  3. Sounds similar to the comments I had about this film. It made its way to Adelaide thanks to the Sydney Film Fest but its sitting in my drafts, I can barely remember most of it =//

  4. That sounds unfortunate, but definitely good enough to check it out, given I had no interest at all in it before.

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