For Reel

Slow West (2015)
June 10, 2015, 12:17 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: John Maclean
3.5 Stars
Slow WestAs depictions of the Old West (and their ilk, such as the post-apocalyptic The Rover) have continued to dwell in shabby tones of grey, it’s a nice change of pace to see a comparatively flamboyant western that revels in bold colors. Slow West, the first feature written and directed by musician John Maclean, is a deconstructive take on frontier mythology that brings a dark sense of humor and surreality worthy of the Coen brothers to the genre. The film concerns a 16-year-old (Kodi Smit-McPhee) boy from the Scottish Highlands who has made his way to America in order to find the girl that he loves. He’s accompanied by the cynical Silas (Michael Fassbender), who essentially forces his services as a chaperone on the boy who he describes as, “a jack rabbit in a den of wolves.” Maclean’s observations about 19th century myth-making are old hat, but it’s an inspired choice to take the stripped down narrative of a traditional western and link it with something that feels like a fairytale. Mostly, though, it’s the visuals contributed by Robbie Ryan that have the lasting impact, including a visually stunning final shootout in which a band of outlaws spring up and down from a wheat field as if they were in a lethal game of whack-a-mole.

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