July 27, 2015

Slow West

John Maclean, 2015
The best way to describe Slow West is to call it a simple love story set in the American West. Undoubtedly guilty of being too light on story, you spend a good portion of the film in a tracking shot as Jay (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Silas (Michael Fassbender) stroll across the western landscape (which is really amazingly beautiful New Zealand) on horseback. You are treated to flashbacks of McPhee and his love Rose (Caren Pistorius), who were separated in their native Scotland after a freak death forced them to flee the country to seek refuge in America.

Sometimes, quite often actually, the whole style over substance thing can work. But here it does feel like the film could have used a more colorful script. Especially with the level of acting involved. The story is too undeveloped for the actors. Fassbender, McPhee and Mendelsohn all have a lot more to offer and the empty script doesn't really provide them with the vessel to do so. Because of this, the film is more of a visual showcase. Good example of a film that you could follow with the volume completely down. And once again, sometimes that even says a lot for a film. But here it's more of a disappointing factor.

The flashbacks actually feel kind of forced. There are never any real moments where you look back and are fully invested in the love between Jay and Rose. When they are sitting next to each other, it feels like they were instructed to sit next to each other. Not a whole lot of chemistry. The most compelling part of the film is certainly the climax, with a very traditional Western-style gunfight. Not a lot of big moments leading up to that point. Slow West is a good movie if you are comfortable enough spending 90 minutes on horseback with Fassbender mumbling here and there, and McPhee spending a lot of time talking to the stars because his company isn't so conversational.

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