‘Slow West’ – Fassbender’s latest rewards patience with gripping gear changes

June 23, 2015

****

Director: John Maclean

Duration: 84 minutes (UK/New Zealand)

Michael Fassbender steps into some spurs and onto a horse in this quiet, low key gem from writer/director and first time feature director John Maclean.

Centred on a Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Jay; a troubled young man haunted by the departure of his sweetheart and her father, this is a peripatetic journey through the verdant splendour of the 19th century American frontier. Jay is hell-bent on finding his love. During his noble pursuit, he encounters Fassbender’s mysterious Silas and is propositioned; Silas will aid Jay’s search for a small fee. Unbeknownst to Jay – but known to everyone else – the object of his desires and her father are wanted people. A bounty rests on their head. Are Silas’s intentions pure?

It is an atmospheric piece, metered with a wonderful, creeping tension, and one that invokes the spirit of both Hitchcock and the Coen Bros. Slow West is a slow burn. This is old-fashioned cinema shorn of fast cuts and cheap thrills. You have to work for the pay-off provided here. But it is certainly worth it. Investment and patience is rewarded. A film that punctuates its quiet passages with gripping gear changes. 

Stick with this one and ride out the sections of drifting, woozy tranquillity, because the stunning set pieces build to a revelatory climax.

Slow West is in cinemas from 26th June 2015

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