Rated: R for violence and brief language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: May 5, 2015 Released by: A24 Films
Shot in New Zealand, Scotsman John Maclean with lenser Robbie Ryan offer a daring luster to the U.S.'s post-Civil War American West that may be too deliberate to even some discerning arthouse cineastes.
Yet, Slow West, featuring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Michael Fassbender has plenty of intrigue through incident and alternating detours in a simmering type of pacing which centers around Smit-McPhee's tyro polite and chatty English lad Jay Cavendish and Fassbender's edgy nomadic Silas reluctantly teaming up.
Silas takes the kid with very limited outdoor experience as his charge to collect the reward on the woman Jay pines for, Rose (Caren Pistorius) who illicitly fled Britain with her daddy - keeping that fact to himself like a pragmatic, stoic bounty hunter who's been roguishly waiting for this moment.
Maclean draws perhaps quite well from the likes of Joel and Ethan Coen, besides masters of the genre, including John Ford to piece together a riveting journey that has levity within some affecting and deadly sequences which involve settlers, Indians, and wicked desperadoes. The uneasy union between Jay and Silas helps drive Slow West which lives up or down to its title, depending on your mood and frame of reference, as the former has a loathing for what gruff characters are around him. The narrative has a tautness about it though which works with a fated staunchness that the sharp helmer deftly employs.