Slow West: A Beautiful, Dark, Thoughtful Western

Slow West was something I saw recommended on some site that’s not important enough to even mention.  What is important, is that I’m glad I took the time to sit down and watch this, for lack of a better term, interesting movie.  Not the best movie of the year, and by no means the worst, it’s above average for sure.  It’s hard to describe honestly.  I guess, to sum all of my mixed emotions up, I loved it.

If you’ve heard anything about this movie, you’ve no doubt heard about its striking resemblance to a Coen Brothers film.  After seeing it for myself, I can certainly see why people are saying that, but I’m confident in saying that there’s enough substance and value here to set it apart.  It’s not a Coen rip off by any means.  If anything, at times it simply pays homage.

One of the best things going for this film is Michael Fassbender.  Yes, he is in this.  And he does a damn good job.  Barely saying anything, he somehow manages to hold down every single scene he’s in.  There’s a certain vibe he gives off, almost like a young Clint Eastwood.  I hope to see him in more Westerns as he absolutely killed it in this one.

Opposite Fassbender is Kodi Smit-McPhee, someone I’ve personally never heard of before this.  Kodi plays young Jay, who has come to America searching for the love of his life, Rose, who also happens to have a pretty hefty bounty on her head.  Accompanied by Fassbender’s Silas, a mercenary outlaw just trying to survive in the brutal west, Jay sets off looking for Rose.  I won’t spoil anything, but along the way they obviously run into some trouble.  All of it leads up to an explosive climax.

What really struck me about this movie is how John Maclean, the director and writer, explores the human mind with the backdrop of a Western.  He puts our characters in various situations that really gives us an insight to how they view the world, and how they react to this world.  There’s a scene that takes place at a general store about 20 minutes in that really stuck out.  Again, I won’t spoil anything, but what happens at the store really stunned me and set the tone for the rest of the movie.

The cinematography is stunning in Slow West.  Wide shots of field, forests, mountains, etc. really capture the feel of a classic Western.  I watched this movie on my phone and I’m kind of regretting it.  I think this is the kind of movie that deserves the full theater experience or at least a big TV.

The movie is undoubtly a Western, but also plays out like a road trip, with Fassbender and McPhee serving as the odd couple.  There’s amusing lines, thoughtful commentary, and stunning cinematography.  As a fan of Westerns, I’m happy to see the genre still getting some love.  And if you aren’t a huge fan, I’d still recommend this movie.  It’s more than a simple Western and you’ll be glad you didn’t skip it.

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