Review: Slow West
“A short time from now, this will be a long time ago”, is said by an important character in musician turned auteur John MacLean’s fine new film Slow West.
The film essentially hinges on whether or not a viewer is hip to the idea that Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is worthy of our attention. Because his motives are essentially an extended quest for a girl Rose (Caren Pistorius) who may not want anything to do with him.
What the viewer will not need to be sold on is ne’er-do-well Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender). Perpetually sucking on a stogie, Silas is a natural fit for the charismatic Fassbender, who seems to be at ease playing a character similar to George Pemberton in Serena, but pulling it off in ways that Bradley Cooper just could not do.
This Don Quixote and Sancho Panza eventually arrive at their station, an ordinary house, though Slow West is a lot more about the journey, rather than the destination.
Along the way, there is an upsetting injury for Jay, an unfortunate encounter in a general store, and a scene-chewing Ben Mendelssohn outfitted in an outrageous fur coat. The wardrobe item along is almost reason enough on its own to enjoy the reflective and yet quick moving vagaries of Slow West.
Best of all, Game of Thrones’s Rory McCann arrives mid-film, and while nothing like his character of The Hound, his John Ross still threatens to carry a mighty wallop.
Though the story seems to be about the long ago past in Colorado, it is very much a story about contemporary life, filled with petty squabbles, the will to power, and a visual gag that needs to be seen to be believed.
And McPhee and especially Michael Fassbender are worthy traveling companions.