Thursday, May 21, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: Slow West (2015)

Some of the best movies ever made are westerns, yet that's a genre that doesn't yield many motion pictures in this day and age.  Given the short supply, the odds of landing upon a quality western has greatly decreased, but then along comes a movie like Slow West.  While both the pace and the brooding nature of this movie are staples of the genre, the humor and the keen wit that permeate the piece make it unconventional enough to emerge as a distinct creation.  It doesn't really feel like modern fare and yet it is a far cry from the type of picture that Clint Eastwood or John Wayne would have starred in despite some potent similarities.  Director John Maclean takes his time with the tale and it's hard to believe that the sometimes leisurely and wildly unpredictable journey that we're treated to is confined to a mere 84 minutes.  At the forefront of the picture are Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jay Cavendish, a curious lad who is traversing foreign soil in search of his beloved, and Michael Fassbender as the wily bounty hunter who decides to chaperone this lost cause of a human being.  The film belongs to these two actors and they both offer up stirring performances.  Even as a series of flashbacks clearly display Jay's affection for Rose Ross (Caren Pistorious), those same glimpses of his former life lead us to believe that his heart is leading him astray.  Fassbender's Silas Selleck has his reasons for leading the lovestruck young man across the country, and it becomes obvious that what he decides to do when Jay and Rose are reunited will define him as a man.  Jay and Silas cover a lot of dangerous ground and meet some interesting people, all while a band of outlaws that Silas once rode with lurk in the background.  In the bloody finale, Maclean manages to deliver several surprises, a couple of delightful sight gags, a bit of meditation on the meaning of life, and a worthy conclusion to an intriguing western that I greatly enjoyed.

Final Grade: B+
Fassbender oozes cool as a gritty survivor type who could easily be confused
with Eastwood's "Man with No Name" if he wasn't so talkative.
Well, it would also help if he could hold his liquor.  That too.

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