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Friday, June 26, 2015

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Slow West

A young Scottish man recruits a gruff outlaw to help find his love in Slow West.  Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) has traveled from Scotland to America to locate Rose Ross (Caren Pistorius), the object of Jay's affections, who fled Scotland some time ago with her father John (Rory McCann).  While heading west, Jay comes across Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender), who offers to be Jay's guide for a fee.  As it turns out, there is a bounty out for Rose and John, which attracts a lot of violent bounty hunters, including Silas' old acquaintance Payne (Ben Mendelsohn).
Musician turned filmmaker John Maclean makes his feature film debut with the western Slow West.  Despite being one of the oldest of all film genres, dating all the way back to 1903's The Great Train Robbery, modern westerns are few and far between.
When it comes to recent westerns, Slow West probably has the most in common with the Coen Brothers' 2010 remake of True Grit, in how a young person hires a gruff outlaw to perform a task.

There isn't really any reason for Jay Cavendish to trust Silas Selleck when he first comes across him.  However, Silas wants Jay that he is as good as dead if he continues west through dangerous terrain without a guide.  This begins an uneasy partnership with Silas, whose intentions remain quite ambiguous.  Is he truly wanting to help Jay reunite with his love Rose or he merely doing this to collect a $2000 bounty, which is well known to everyone except Jay?

As is hinted by the title, Slow West takes its time unfolding its plot, despite a somewhat brisk 84 minute run time.  Much of the plot involves Jay and Silas encountering a number of various individuals and scenarios along their journey, ranging from a violent robbery at a trading post to an extended campfire story.  Flashbacks are used to establish the friendship between Jay and Rose and the reasoning why she and her father had to flee from Scotland.

Slow West climaxes with a violent showdown, which is well worth the film's slow build-up.  Not only does it feature plenty of the gunfighting expected in westerns, but it even includes some pretty clever visual metaphors about the relationship between Jay and Rose.  While westerns in this day and age aren't really seen as a very profitable genre, I will say that Slow West is a darn good one.

 ★ ★ ★ ★ | LIKED IT 

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).