Slow West is a worthwhile slow burner


A young Scottish man travels across America in the hope of finding the woman he loves, whilst also attracting the attention of an outlaw along the way.

16 year-old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is intent on journeying across America at the end of the 19th century as he searches for the woman he loves but lost a time ago. Along the way, Jay gains the company of Silas (Michael Fassbender), mysterious traveller with an agenda of his own, and the unlikely pair are soon pursued by an outlaw and former associate of Silas’, Payne (Ben Mendelsohn).

Last year saw the release of Slow West – a film that I believe could prove very important in the apparent rebirth of the western genre. It is also a film that I massively enjoyed for a multitude of reasons, and thought it only fair that I shared those with you.

Firstly, there are the performances. It’s funny because the roles played by both lead actors are quite minimalist; there’s not an awful lot to them but quite a lot is gotten across throughout the course of the film. Smit-

McPhee’s role is quite sweet in essence as he not only travels across America, but along the pathway to manhood as well. The relative newcomer’s acting was never to win any awards, but did what it had to do in showing the boy toughening up as he embarked on his manly mission. What I found to be the biggest thing to hinder his performance was the ‘Scottish’ accent he put on, but in the grand scheme of things in a film where very little is actually said, the dodgy accent doesn’t really cause to big of an issue.

Now, it seems to be something I’m starting to say quite often, but Michael Fassbender is yet another actor who is quickly becoming a favourite of mine, yet who perhaps isn’t very widely acknowledged for his capabilities. As Silas, he again proves why more people should know his name. In another minimalist performance, perhaps more so than Smit-McPhee’s, Fassbender’s character mystifies with what he tells us, but does so even more with what he doesn’t say. The art of his characterisation of Silas lies amongst subtleties, which when added altogether, make for an absolutely tremendous character.

The locations for Slow West are stunning. Shot in New Zealand, the film is moved along nicely with breathtaking shots of the landscape, which seem to tell a story all by themselves. The beauty within the cinematography also makes the outcome of the film all the more cruel, which just further accentuates the twisted undertones of dark humour that are laced throughout the entirety of the film.

Overall, if there is a film that should be responsible for the regeneration of the western genre, nobody should be too disappointed if Slow West was to take that title. It has the ingredients of a classic, but blend themes together with aspects of modern cinema and the results are wonderful. It may start off slow-moving, but by the time it reaches the end-sequence massacre, that is, poetic to say the least, you’ll be wondering where the past hour and a half went. 

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Kira Comerford

Film and TV lover with hopes to one day make my own projects for everyone to enjoy. Until then, I'm giving my thoughts on what I watch for inspiration.

6 thoughts on “Slow West is a worthwhile slow burner”

    1. It’s good to know there’s someone else who loves a good landscape in films! I really enjoyed this one, and I think that’s a fair point coming from someone whose seen a fair bit of John Wayne and Robert Mitchum in her time.

      Thanks for the comment, I always love to hear from readers and interact with them. It’s nice to know its reaching you guys. Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, so there are others out there who aren’t “old” but have done their John Wayne and Robert Mitchum movies. Wayne was my hero as a little girl…Big Jake, The War Wagon and more. Mitchum I’d only seen in Home from the Hill. Ooh, and Mitchum junior in Big Jake ๐Ÿ˜‰ Check out my short “take” on Slow West and some other Westerns if you’re up for it: https://thoughtsallsorts.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/jane-got-a-gun-slow-west-the-salvation-and-more/
        Then there’s Gregory Peck…never has a bad boy been so sexy as Lewt in Duel in the Sun! Anyway, I’ll stop by some more – you have plenty to go through!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh yes there are! El Dorado is a personal favourite of mine – it has both Wayne and Mitchum in and is an absolute cracker. I can’t say I’ve seen much of Gregory Peck, but another actor whose westerns I’ve loved is Clint Eastwood. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly takes some beating ๐Ÿ™‚

        I’ll be sure to check out your take on Slow West – it’ll be good to se e what a fellow fan has to say.

        And make sure you do come back – there’s always plenty of reviews and movie chat to be had over here. Don’t be a stranger!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Promise I will be back…we seem to be on the same page with Westerns (and others…just read The Commitments review)…so, see you around! El Dorado is on my every growing “To Watch” list…I’ll get there. Have a good one!

        Liked by 1 person

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