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Review | Slow West (2015)

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  • Directed by: John Maclean
  • With:Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn
  • 84 Minutes
  • Português: flag-portugal

For those of you who usually read my review, I’ve already mentioned that I’m not a fan of the Western genre… Probably because I never had that much amazing experiences in that field… But what matters now is that after watching Slow West, I realized that I should give these movies an opportunity. Snow West is one of those movies that leaves no one indifferent towards its characters and the fact is that there are so many great things about it that it’s impossible to not feel attached by a young boy’s struggle to find the love of his life while he travels alongside a killer who might be his lucky ticket in a no-law land. A slow ride with a both intriguing and devastating pace that leaves no room for disappointment with a great performance by Michael Fassbender.

Set in 19th Century Colorado but undeniably European in sensibility, Slow West tells the story of sixteen-year-old Jay Cavendish as he travels from Scotland to Colorado in pursuit of his lost love. He is quickly confronted by the dangers of the Frontier and so teams up with a mysterious traveller named Silas, who agrees to protect him – for a price. Jay’s quest will be one of double-crossing, violence and peril as the guileless adolescent learns that the West takes no pity, least of all on the innocent. [Synopsis by: Production]

In its first moments, Slow West is ruled by innocence and there’s not much going on. You meet Jay, the lonely boy who happens to be in love with the wrong woman, an idea we’ve seen so many times, and you’re introduced to that place where guns rule everything and the natives have no place to go. Basically it’s the story we all know, men trying to seize the lands that belong to the natives by using weapons and force while innocent people watched all that without being able to do the slightest thing. In this godforsaken country, Jay’s safety was almost null but his dying wish of meeting the love of his life conquered his mind. So there he went, without realizing the true dangers of that journey. So as you can see there’s not much to talk about these first minutes. But once the action starts rolling, Slow West turns into one of those movies you simply can’t stop watching/pausing to go to the bathroom. The way we see Jay growing up in that journey, while he connects with Silas and the way these two relate with each other is so pleasant to watch that the rest of the story actually doesn’t matter that much. Fasssbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee are like father and son, even though they are complete opposites… While one sees only evil, the other tries to see the best things and focuses his mind on those.

And so we’re confronted with a terrible true that turns Jay and Silas’ relationship into something quite complex. This meeting of two different goals and the dangers of the journey allow Slow West to become a both intriguing and fierce thriller about that may look a bit violent but in the end it all seems natural and pure. The story develops in a screen dominated mostly by beautiful landscapes that reveal nature as the ultimate victim of all that violence. There’s almost no time to rest while we are constantly being confronted with intriguing new characters that give this story a look by far more interesting than just a western romance. Jay’s quest for love is filled with great moments that give this movie an interesting pace to develop. Slow West has a tiny bit of innocence thanks to the love story we get familiar with but this is kept on background while we see men struggling to survive in a road of redemption, violence and vengeance where only the strongest will survive. With all this, I’ve to admit that John Maclean’s directing surprised me a lot in a movie that may seem a bit short but that at the same time manages to be honest and pure in a violent and sometimes brutal way. A story about love in which survival is what matters the most… Slow West is both intriguing and interesting with a story that may have some flaws but that ultimately is successful thanks to pleasant performances by both Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

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