Review By: Collin Stroup
Directed By: John Maclean
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, Caren Pistorious
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The western genre has seen many approaches. In fact, the first film to ever have narrative was the 1903 western The Great Train Robbery. From there we have the romanticized visions of the west with old John Wayne films, to more tragic takes on the genre like 3:10 to Yuma, and the strange and dangerous worlds of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. So where does Slow West fit in to all of this? Drawing from a little bit of everything, this film is a mixed bag which ends up being sort of a good and bad thing.
The story of Slow West follows Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) as he ventures across the American west to find his love who’s run from their home in Scotland. Along the way, he finds the outlaw Silas Slick (Michael Fassbender) who agrees to protect him on his journey, but might have an agenda of his own. The story spends most of its time investigating its very likeable characters (even the villains are charming), but probably the most enjoyable thing is its gorgeous cinematography. From the beautiful landscapes, to some more surreal and intimate shots, this film is certainly pleasing to the eye.
Cherry picking some classic genre staples like the tense standoffs of Once Upon a Time in the West, a Coen-esque approach to its characters, and a good dose of romanticizing, it certainly feels ambitious. With all of these different elements however, the film never seems to fully gel, offering up some truly intriguing moments, but feeling a bit empty in the end. The characters are so enjoyable though, they carry the story with excellent performances from every single cast member. It’s nice to see different and ambitious approaches to such an old and beloved genre, and while Slow West might be a little uneven, it squeaks by on a little bit of charm.
Read more reviews and thoughts on film from Collin at www.amateurhourfilm.com