Slow West (2015) Directed by John Maclean. Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn. IMDB Says: “‘Slow West’ follows a 16-year-old boy on a journey across 19th Century frontier America in search of the woman he loves, while accompanied by mysterious traveler Silas.”

Slow West is a new Western film directed by newcomer John Maclean and starring Michael Fassbender. The film follows a young Scottish man as he searches for his sweetheart through the American west. That Scottish man is joined on his journey by an experienced desperado played by Fassbender. This cowboy keeps his true reasons for helping the Scott a secret until well into their journey.

Slow West is definitely a slow burn and can be kind of tough to really get a grip on. The film is very slow-paced and action sequences are somewhat infrequent. The film also features quick cuts to other places and times that provide more insight into the characters backgrounds but they sort of obstruct the flow of the film. The story is well-conceived and the dialogue well written. The film does a very good job portraying the dangers of the Old West but it seems to lack the realism that other films set during that period are able to create.

If you break this film down to its individual elements, everything is pretty solid. I felt the acting was strong from all parts, particularly Fassbender who fit in remarkably well with this role. The cinematography was also quite well done. There are a handful of striking images and its just a very pretty film. I actually really enjoyed the sound design here as well, it really added something special to the film for me. I think I would have liked a bit more of a comedic element to this picture though. If I had to describe the tone of the film, it would be bleak, or melancholy. For me, when you pair a slow-paced film with a melancholy plot, the end result is often boredom for the viewer.

I wouldn’t say this film was overtly boring but there wasn’t anything to keep me on the edge of my seat. Overall the film is well-produced and well put together but it still feels lacking. Comedy may have helped, or perhaps a more tangible love story. There just isn’t really anything to keep the viewer going forward and honestly the ending is pretty predictable. I wouldn’t say this is a regretful watch but it is a far cry from the Westerns of days past and can best be described as underwhelming.


Slow West opens in Baltimore area theaters May 22, 2015.