Runtime: 83 mins
What To Expect: Epic scenery, violent and black humour
Years ago I think this is a film John Wayne would’ve starred in, probably appearing in the role that Michael Fassbender had here. It’s an old fashioned western that properly captures the nuances and primitive charm of the era, where a man could sit around a camp fire telling a yarn about how he killed a varmant, only to discover that the man was innocent, to laughter from his audience regardless. Slow West aims low and hits high, I’m glad I caught this one, it’s a nice hit for our anticipated western renaissance.
Slow West features Kodi Smit-McPhee as a wet behind the ears manlet traversing alone through ruthless bandit territory in the old American west, to link up with his sweetheart and old man. At any minute, the kid is about to be predatored by Injuns, varmants or assorted trash. Hollow eyed killer Michael Fassbender spots the greenhorn and sees the inevitable, and decides to escort McPhee for a princely sum of 50 dollars. A good turn of heart, you might say, perhaps Fassbender’s character is looking for redemption after a lifetime or gunning down pissants the land over.
What a humble yet engaging western. Unpredictable and well written, although to reveal more about the plot would basically spoil the movie. The trailer did not strike me because it seemed almost to suggest that the movie was a comedy, but it isn’t, rather an old-time western with a streak of black and morbid humour running up its back. McPhee is fine as the weedy kid, dodgy Scottish accent aside. But Fassbender is the star of the show, playing a gruff black-hole of an outlaw/bounty hunter, yet still managing to handle the humour effectively.
The cinematography is superb as well, and often outright stunning. I’m not 100% for sure about the ending though, some might find it a bit odd and unsatisfactory. To me though it fits with the vintage black humour and realism, it was the correct way to go. This is almost a Coens style of movie, with their eccentricity replaced with blatant forthrightness. An extra point for classy pacing, this film knows its limitations and leaves the stage at a paltry 83 minutes.