Resurgence of the badass. So this is about a young Scottish teenager travelling stateside (Kodi Smit-McPhee). He’s trying to reach the girl who has his heart (Caren Pistorius), but in order to survive in the harsh West, he has to team up with an outlaw whose motives may be a hair on the grey side (Michael Fassbender). It’s no secret: I am a gigantic fan of the Western, and it is a genre that I love to lose myself in. I cherish the time when I get to watch them, but the only problem is that you just don’t see that many nowadays; apart from Appaloosa and the remakes of 3:10 to Yuma and True Grit, can you name another Western that has been released in the last decade? That’s why I was giddy to watch Slow West: we don’t get many cowboy movies these days (never mind Leone esque cowboy movies), and this is an original Western property, which is something I will always wholeheartedly support.
Almost all of the great Westerns are sprawling in length; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West are two of my very favorites, but they both come in a few minutes under the 3 hour mark. Slow West is remarkable in that it only comes in at an unintimidating 84 minutes, which is unheard of in the genre. Because it is also an unlikely duo team up movie, it is easy to get into. They got that weird looking kid from The Road, who is good in this, but he is ultimately overshadowed by Fassbender, who shows the expansive range of his talents. He’s always been a quality actor, but here, he shines in a way that would make Clint Eastwood smile. Looking at his library, I can honestly say that this might just be my favorite role of his, which is truly saying something (it’s super close with his role in Inglourious Basterds, for me at least). He is playing a character where you can tell that he’s been out here awhile, and he’s a man of few words, but is always good for a one liner. The dynamic to their relationship is what keeps you hooked, and you’re never 100% where his allegiance truly lies.
They really got the look down to this, and this is a very promising directorial debut from John Maclean. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crisper looking Western, and I don’t think I’ve seen a Western shot digitally before, or at least not in such high definition. How much you enjoy Westerns determines how much I recommend you check this out, but if you’re like me, it’s a must see.
Slow West (2015) ****
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2015? See for yourself here.