Uncovering Curiosities: John Maclean’s SLOW WEST

Director John Maclean’s 2015 western, Slow West isn’t your standard ‘oater’. This is a quirky offbeat tale which is as funny as it is heartbreaking.

Michael Fassbender is Silas, an outlaw who takes Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Jay under his wing so that he can find his long lost love in the American west. They duo face a multitude of problems as they traverse the rough country in the search for redemption and a happy ending that may be too good to believe.

Whimsical and dreamlike, there’s a playfulness to Slow West that is often disrupted by short and powerful bursts of violence. This might be Maclean’s first feature, but he has a strong understanding of tone and pacing. This west is a harsh place but it’s also a land of misfits and lost souls.

Kodi Smit-McPhee is impressive as Jay, the Scottish teenager who has travelled to the other side of the earth to track down his sweetheart. His performance is boyish and heartfelt and he’s perfect as the out-of-place traveller who is oblivious to the dangers that await. Fassbender channels Clint Eastwood as the mysterious Silas, the man of mystery who prefers stillness and silence to action. It’s another great role and it again shows Fassbender’s diversity and brilliance as an actor. Ben Mendesohn has a supporting role as the greasy Payne, a lowlife who sees dollar signs in Jay’s voyage of discovery.

Slow West is a film that plays by its own rules. It’s not a standard western, but it’s a little gem that is worth seeking out. It again shows that Michael Fassbender is definitely an actor to follow, no matter what film he makes.