Concise Review: Slow West (2015)


In Slow West, the West bursts with bountiful colour, heightened optimistic starry skies and entertaining, quirky strangers. At least, this is the West seen through the eyes of a young man called Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) whose immediate goal is to search for his long-lost sweetheart- Rose. (Caren Pistorius)

Slow West primarily works because of this intrinsic optimistic world-view and its interplay with the traditional conception of the West. The harshness and immorality of this latter idea of the West are represented by Silas Selleck (Micheal Fassbender) He believes that there nothing else to living other than survival. And part of the film’s fascination is how his world view is shaped and changed by Jay, who he initially deems as too positive for his sake.

As Selleck, Fassbender delivers his most subtle performance to date as the changes in his character are expectedly conveyed through body language, vocal tones and demeanour. All these three elements are wonderfully encapsulated in the closing scene as Selleck sees Jay lying dead in the corner of the house in which he enters. His reaction upon seeing his fallen partner is one of utter admiration and sadness as opposed to annoyance and contempt as portrayed earlier in the film.

Finally, Slow West marks the directorial debut of John Maclean and is commendable what Maclean achieves in his first picture. From these surreal and almost Andersonian remembrance scenes to these bleak and tense action sequences that have small, poignant character moments. Maclean has fundamentally made a tragic Western, which chronicles the changing perspectives of two men’s life within it.

About Sartaj Govind Singh

Notes from a distant observer: “Sartaj is a very eccentric fellow with a penchant for hats. He likes watching films and writes about them in great analytical detail. He has an MA degree in Philosophy and has been known to wear Mickey Mouse ears on his birthday.”
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