Not slow by any stretch, John Maclean’s ravishing frontier drama is the tale of a young gentleman, Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee), an immigrant from Ireland in search of his sweetheart, out of his element and altogether too trusting to survive for long in the wilderness territories of the 1870s. He’s rescued from bandits by Silas (Michael Fassbender), whose motives may not be entirely pure, but who volunteers to shepherd Jay on his quest - after all, they are heading in the same direction.
Charting a territory between genre convention and iconoclasm, writer-director Maclean brings a sparky, sardonic eye to familiar landscapes, evoking the best (Clint Eastwood, Cormac McCarthy, True Grit, Dead Man) but keeping things spare and simple too. What’s most refreshing, perhaps, is that this is at heart a movie about emotion: love, loyalty, and loss, albeit in a setting that sets no store by such indulgences.
"It’s the rare western that invites you to imagine what life then and there might actually have felt like, sight gags and all. Maclean is a supremely promising talent." Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
"An absurdist, melancholy coming-of-age tale that jumps from odd comedy to striking violence to stirring reflection." Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine
"An angular Western that sublimates the fading promise of the New World into a fairy tale of unrequited love, Slow West starts with "once upon a time" and ends with a crackle of incredible savagery." David Ehrlich, Time Out