Ho! For The West !! – ★★★★
Slow West is a vignette on love, adolescence and the violence perpetrated in the name of money.
Jay (Kodi-Smit McPhee) is in search of his one true love who has taken flight to America with her father. The reason for Rose and father Ross leaving their native Scotland is told in a series of flashbacks as Jay travels west. He comes across Silas (Michael Fassbender), an experienced drifter who offers him safe passage on his journey, for a price of course.
John Maclean’s first foray into feature length films is a beautifully shot, to the point, take on one of cinema’s oldest genres. He captures the solitude and harshness of the American frontier, although filmed in New Zealand, and shows the devastation that can be left in pursuit of one’s dream. Kodi-Smit deftly shows the pain and anguish caused by young love and there may perhaps be a nod to the bard with Maclean calling his main characters Jay and Rose. Unlike her name sake Rose (Caren Pistorius) is no shrinking violet, she is steadfast and will not wait idly by to be saved by some purported knight in shining armour.
Fassbender shows the test of a truly great actor by making it all seem effortless. With his many stares and few words he paints the picture of a loner who’s been too long on horseback. The film offers nice road signs to the fact left out of most western; that an indigenous people were completely robbed of their land and all but exterminated.
Maclean has certainly been influenced by the Coen brothers and Wes Anderson – the latter for framing, the former for mood and pace. The band of outlaws and bounty hunters fronted by the always excellent Ben Mendelsohn appears to be a more sanitised telling of those from Blood Meridian.
The most attractive element of Slow West is its running time of 84 minutes. No fat is left to chew on or bones to stew. Instead we get a lean fillet steak that is rare indeed.
Slow West opens on the 26th June 2015