Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Slow West (2015)

Director: John Maclean
Writer:    John Maclean
Cast:       Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn

A young Scottish 16-year-old boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) travels across America in pursuit of the woman he loves, attracting the attention of an outlaw (Michael Fassbender) who is willing to serve him as a guide. Unknown to the Scot, there is a $2000 bounty on her head and he might be inadvertently leading the bounty hunters on to her.  

It is set in 1870 America but was shot in Scotland and New Zealand along with Colarado. All sorts of awesome is condensed into the 84 minute running time. You kind of think that you know where it is going since the premise is quite similar to the one in 'True Grit', an older bounty-hunter helping a young kid to reach a destination. But, it totally surprised me during the finale which was brutally beautiful. I am a big fan of Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns but this one is quite different in tone and style. While Leone tended to make everything in epic scale, Slow West is an exercise in minimalism and there is hardly any flab to it. It is much more closer to Jim Jarmusch's 'Dead Man' rather than other films in the genre. Even the Clint Eastwood like character played by Fassbender is done in a genre-bending fashion. I was disappointed when it turned that the character had a name.

I won't describe myself as a big fan of the Western genre and don't really try to lap it up as much as possible. The ones that I have liked are the Leone films, 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' and when it comes to modern ones, I did enjoy 'True Grit' and loved 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford'. But these are films that you will love if you are a fan of cinema itself and really don't need to be a genre fanboy. I also like it when you get such films in Modern settings like 'No Country For Old Men' and the genre mixing ones made by the likes of Quentin Tarantino with elements of Western to it. Tarantino's next film, The Hateful Eight, is expected to be his first out and out Western.

Coming back to Slow West, it is a fantastic film and will definitely feature very high up in my year end 'Best of' List. There is surprisingly great humor in it and the surreal sort of sequences in it were also great. Ben Mendelsohn and Michael Fassbender are always tremendously watchable. It is a gorgeous film to look at and is a Film4, BFI and NZ Film Corporation co-production. It got a digital video release on the same date as its theatrical release and didn't do very well at box office. 

Rating: 5/5