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Slow West [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
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At the end of the nineteenth century, 16-year-old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) journeys across the American frontier in search of the woman he loves. He is joined by Silas (Michael Fassbender), a mysterious traveler, and hotly pursued by an outlaw along the way.
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After having read the reviews, I braced myself for falling asleep in the middle of the movie, as it was late, I was tired, and I knew I wasn't going to make it through a "slow" movie. I didn't nod off once.
Its beautifully shot and acted, with a western pre-packaged plot turned on its head, a horrifically dry sense of humor, and a touch of magical realism (enough that they can get away with crazy plot holes, you just take it for granted that this world works just a little differently). Frankly, I'm convinced that those who perceive this as slow only observe dialogue and fight scenes in a movie. Yes, there are long scenes with long periods of quiet, but in order to keep this western sparse enough with words that you actually believe the narrator is the sort of fellow they claim, they do a lot of their storytelling silently. When you see the two characters riding, look at their horses: the outlaw rides his horse with it's head held relaxed, the kid's horse has his head straight up in the air, and gradually lowers it throughout the film, showing how up-tight the kid is in comparison. After one particularly disturbing gunfight, the outlaw whistles as he rides his horse, and the kid glares at him, then the camera pans around and shows the outlaw clenching his fist and rubbing it on his trousers - obviously feeling unclean. There's also some great visual puns/metaphors throughout, two in particular involving salt and horseshoes.
Watching it with an eye for these unspoken details, I became deeply invested in the story and characters, to the point that the ending (both tragic and hopeful) made for a painful emotional rollercoaster.
Yes, there are the traditional villains, good and bad face-offs, and the reluctant hero (Fassbender), but different from most westerns with traditional props of campfires and trading posts, this story gives us a gritty perspective into these oft glanced over props, making me feel that it is not the bad guys that are simply brutal, but it is "the west" in general.
This is not your regular western. Maclean (writer/director) gives us the hero's back-story (Smit-McPhee) in snippets, which in some cases has a surreal quality. Blending a person's past with the present is hardly a new technique in film, but the way it is done in Slow West feels fresh, unexpected and a tad bit intelligent. I hate to say the word archetypes, but the Slow West leaves an imprint that resonates as do other movies that speak to us at a deeper level and haunt us long after the film is over. I look forward to seeing what Maclean does next.
and who's family had travelled West after an incident had made it impossible for them to stay.
'Jay' rides alone, miraculously he had reached Colorado without being harmed, somehow riding through Indian
Country and lands roamed by outlaws.
'Silas' (Michael Fassbender) had been tracking the 16 year-old and probably saves his life when he comes face
to face with what he assumed was a soldier.
These lands are no place for a greenhorn to travel alone, 'Silas' offers to chaperone the youngster helping him
reach his destination and the girl he loves, the price of his help, $50 up front, $50 on completion.
There is much danger ahead, having a experienced gunman should help 'Jay' complete the journey, though he's
not to sure of 'Silas' in truth, has the gunman got an agenda not known to 'Jay' ?
Will 'Rose' (Caren Pistorius) still be holding a candle for young 'Jay' ?
This is a gritty and well enacted story which has it's moments of violence along the way, well worth a viewing at
the very least.
A Gaff in the film, many of the gunmen featured are using a 'Colt-Peacemaker' which wasn't released until 1876
bearing in mind the film is set in 1870 -
* On Strange Land
* Making 'Slow West' - Featurette
* Deleted Scenes.
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