Wednesday, May 20, 2015

[Review] Slow West

Slow West might be the antithesis of Mad Max: Fury Road, both in title and lack of extravagance, which isn't necessarily a bad thing because it's not trying to be that. What we have here is a low-key Western, suitable to watch on a lazy afternoon.

Set at the end of the 19th century, the premise is pretty straightforward (it's even introduced by a narrator at the beginning): A 16-year-old Scottish boy named Jay (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is journeying on a horse across the American frontier in order to find his lost love. And like we all learned from The Oregon Trail game, there are countless obstacles and threats along the way. On the path, Jay meets a very very sneaky drifter (played by Michael Fassbender) who decides to travel with him.

As expected, plenty of picturesque views of the landscapes are on display--vast deserts, lively creeks, blooming prairies, and beautiful mountain backdrops, all under skies of sunlight bursting through clouds or crystal clear starry nights. It's often quiet, and the campfire conversations crack with long pauses. In regards to the title, the pace is a little deliberate at times, but it's never un-engaging (and the runtime is only 80 minutes). Some intense situations unfurl--and it's all a matter of who shoots whom first, as well as the chain reactions and the high stake consequences from each bullet fired. Things are undoubtedly bleak, and a couple of notable exchanges in the script express it best:

"Do you care not to share your company with a murderer?"
"I'd be a lonely man if I did."

"There's more to life than just surviving."
"Yeah, there's dying."

The ending is a definite ending, but my guess is it will upset most people. Not because it's a bad conclusion, but more-so because it's a tragic conclusion. Slow West isn't going to blow anyone's minds, even in comparison to its recent Western contemporaries, but it's worth the time.


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