Blending the styles of all independent films into one, this film manages to become more than just its looks, and offers an enjoyable, yet somber experience.
Slow West is the debut feature of John Maclean and stars Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jay, a young Scottish nobleman venturing across the Wild West in the hopes of finding his childhood love Rose. During his travels he finds Silas (Michael Fassbender) a lone ranger, who agrees to escort him on the mission, for a price.
The film is short, the action is well staged, and the characters never over-stay their welcome, with all the actors giving fine performances of the compact script, that flits between wit, tension, and sorrow at a moment’s notice. Because overall, under the whimsical colours, and literal quick-fire comedy, there’s a vein of sadness that runs through the story, the sense that the world never turns out the way we want it to, and is at the same time very poetic in doing so. From foreshadowing, to literal crying over spilt milk, and salt rubbed in wounds, this is the account of someone reflecting on their past life with a bittersweet tone.
Tilt-shift focuses, cropped widescreen, and film emulsion set the tone for a playful nostalgia trip that – although not wholly original in the independent scene currently – works well to establish the story-telling nature of the feature. An engaging tale from a promising new director and writer.
Slow West (2015), directed by John Maclean, is released on DVD and Blu-ray disc in the UK by Lionsgate. Certificate 15.