Slow West (2015)

This is a story about loss and redemption. This is not your standard Western, but it also manages to grab the wild essence of traditional Westerns and mold them into a new, fresh take on what it might have been like for at least one man in the Wild West. If you don't feel anything for the characters by the end of the movie, you may just be dead inside.

Kodi Smit-McPhee plays a very young man who is following after his girlfriend from back in Scotland and her father out of pure love. He is positively smitten with her, and he has a very single-minded focus on finding her and making her his. He is clearly unprepared to deal with the dangers of the Wild West, and consequently makes a very, very slow progress West; hence the name Slow West. His innocence coupled with his forthright mannerisms make his character lovable in his portrayal is absolutely fantastic.

The narrator of our movie is the big-name draw for this film, Michael Fassbender. Michael is an acting powerhouse that can't be denied. In this movie, he plays a bounty hunter out to find Kodi's girlfriend and her father for a reward that has been posted, and he's not alone. The kid's innocence is something that Michael admires, but he also has to predict and compensate for it when Kodi gets himself into situations that he needs help escaping. Michael is as careful as he can be about trying to hide the nature of his mission from Kodi. Ultimately, the friendship that they develop is going to be tested when they actually find the lovely Rose and her father. The whole movie is clearly building up to that.

Ben Mendelsohn is a competing bounty hunter that Michael knows very well. He's just one of the many bounty hunters that are trying to track down Rose and her father for the $2000 bounty. So, this is a slow chase westward, as the bounty hunters seem to have no real clue where Rose and her father are and assume that Kodi does for some reason. As luck would have it, he has an instinctual pull toward Rose, and everyone seems to be following that mysterious power.

I fear I'm not giving this movie enough of a sell. The fact is, this movie is pretty, acted well, well written, and incredibly well directed. For a relatively slow-paced Western, this was about as interesting as you can get, even as just an artifact of moviemaking. Much like the spaghetti Westerns of old, this was not actually shot in the United States. Instead, it was shot partially in the United Kingdom and partially in New Zealand, and I don't even remember seeing a hobbit in this movie. Has New Zealand become the new Hollywood?

I don't know how much this movie cost to make.I can tell you what the all mighty Wikipedia said it made at the box office: $229,094. That is a ludicrously low sum of money. I don't remember this ever being released in the United States, so they clearly didn't spend much money on advertising. I can only hope they made their money back on streaming or DVD sales, because this kind of movie needs to be encouraged. This is a great movie, and if you haven't seen it, go watch it.

Acting was great
Direction was great
Story was great
Cinematography was fantastic
Even the dialogue was first rate

Bottom Line: A great, shiny new Western for a modern audience.

4.75/5

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