‘Slow West:’ A young man’s search for love on the old western frontier

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“Slow West,” John Maclean’s latest endeavor, follows the story of a young man attempting to traverse the northwestern frontier in 19th century America.

Jay Cavendish, a young Irishman, has left his home country to search for the woman he loves. After her unceremonious departure that he feels responsible for, he has committed himself to ensuring her safety and fulfilling his love.

In his travels he meets Silas, played brilliantly by Michael Fassbender. Dry and with little patience for Jay and his naivety, Silas helps him navigate the frontier in search of his sweetheart, Rose. What Jay doesn’t know, however, is that the $2,000 bounty on Rose’s head has every bounty hunter in America looking just as hard as he is. Unknowingly racing against the clock, Jay and Silas must navigate their way to Rose before it’s too late.

The film was one of the best I’ve seen in a while. Everything was sharp and clear cut but at the same time maintained the gritty and dirty tone of the old western frontier.

Michael Fassbender was terrific; a dry tone combined with true heart led to a very understated but entirely successful performance.

Similarly, Kodi Smit-McPhee gave an intense performance as Jay. Naïve and just trying to find his way to Rose, Jay is the teenager we can all emphasize with and root for. His demeanor and willingness to do what he feels is right is admirable, and Smit-McPhee plays that unrelenting determination perfectly.

More than just great performances, the direction was on point as well. Following somewhat of a Wes Anderson style, Maclean uses quick cuts and voice over narration to keep the film moving at a steady rate, but also provides some moments of absolute hilarity.

For a film of such a serious subject matter, I found myself laughing a lot more than I had expected. The dialogue was witty and matched well with the visuals that perfectly encapsulated the emptiness and danger of the old west. With long shots of the deserts and mountains, the actual aesthetics of the film itself were breathtaking. Almost every other image could be used as a desktop background.

The entire film was a success. I would definitely recommend it and see it again.

3 recommended
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