Slow West (DVD)

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Slow West (DVD)

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Review of "Slow West (DVD)"

published 03/02/2017 | thedevilinme
Member since : 13/05/2008
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Boys completely frozen out of Product of the Week competition then after 11 straight weeks of female cosmetic stuff
Pro Fab debut feature
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"Cracking debut feature !"

Slow West (DVD)

Slow West (DVD)

Star – Michael Fassbender
Genre – Western
Run Time – 87 minutes
Certificate – 15
Country – U.K/NZ
Awards – 5 Wins & 18 nominations
Amazon – £4.00 DVD £7.14 Blue Ray
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Every now and then a debut feature film by a British director blows you away, the case with John Maclean and Slow West, a die hard western indeed. I had the same feeling when I saw Ben Wheatley’s domestic gangster movie ‘Down Terrance’ and the same again with Gareth Edwards low budget Sci-Fi cult classic ‘Monsters’. It’s such a buzz when you discover these guys. Edwards made ‘Monsters’ in 2010 with no money and off the shelf special effects on his laptop and two paid actors and six years later entrusted with the billion dollar Star Wars film Rogue Wars. Ben Wheatley fell on his face a bit with the pretentious High Rise but still bought us the hilarious Sightseers and the original and sadistic Kill List soon after. You need to checkout their movies. All the more impressive with Maclean is his first feature is an impressive and sprawling mid budget western. His directing style is impressive, confident and quirky and how many debut directors secure Michael Fassbender for their first movie! It’s also the debut feature of the rather impressive and striking 18-year-old Kodi Smit-Mcphee as the love struck boy teenager. We have some real talent coming through here.

• Michael Fassbender as Silas Selleck
• Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jay Cavendish
• Ben Mendelsohn as Payne
• Caren Pistorius as Rose Ross
• Rory McCann as John Ross
• Edwin Wright as Victor the Hawk
• Michael Whalley as The Kid
• Andrew Robertt as Werner
• Madeleine Sami as Marimacho
• Brian Sergent as Peyote Joe


It’s the 1900s in the Highlands of Scotland and fresh faced and innocent 17-year-old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is besotted with a girl called Rose Ross (Caren Pistorius). They are inseparable but she does not reciprocate his love and sees him as her little brother and told him so. When she hides him under her bed to avoid a confrontation with her family incase they mistrued the situation it mistrudes it further and tension grows between the Ross and Cavendish clan as Jay publicly declares his feelings for Rose and a fight breaks out and a Cavendish is killed. Fearing a long family feud the Rose and her parents flee to the American West to start a new life.

Jay misses Rose and decides to seek passage to find her. But he is a naive and vulnerable kid and soon cornered by some Indian killing mercenaries of the Confederate on the hostile plains. So enter ruthless bounty hunter Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender), who shoots the bad guys dead. Selleck decides the kid will need protection and charges him $50 to get him where he needs going. Jay agrees and off they go.

Silas is gruff and moody whilst the kid articulate and open minded and so not that much conversation going on as they cross the rugged West. But they have company, fellow bounty hunters headed by Victor the Hawk (Edwin Wright) on the same journey for some reason. On that track they have a shootout in a convenience store, Jay loses his possessions to a con man when he wanders off and then stumbles on the camp of their trackers and gets extremely drunk. But as they near Rose and her father (Rory McCann) living in a homestead on the other side of Ghost whispering Woods it becomes clear to Jay that Silas has an ulterior motive to just being his paid protection and will Rose want to see him?


For $ 1.3m dollar this looks amazing and a cracking cast to go with. Maclean has pulled off something special here on that money and even though mostly shot in NZ you would never know. You have to have some balls to make your first film a sprawling Western on location in New Zealand.

It’s stylish and funny and yet retains the essential elements of the traditional western of cowboys, Indians, horses, the maiden in distress and fatal gunfights. It’s got a feel of its own and if you remember In Bruges with Colin Farrell it has the comic edge the way that suburban western did

Kodi Smit-McPhee is excellent in the lead and plays it with innocence yet knowing intelligence on screen. The boy has real presence. His debut reminds me a lot of Will Pouter’s arrival on screen, another striking young British actor, Will supporting Leo Dicaprio in the Revenant, of course. Michael Fassbender has good chemistry with the kid and doesn’t try to outdo him on screen by showing off and the two josh nicely throughout. I’m not a big fan of Michael Fassbender as he thinks he is the new Daniel Day-Lewis and I always felt he picked films accordingly but here he is great macho fun and very watchable as mainstream XMEN Fassbender.

I know the Western is an old genre and done to death but this more a refresh than rehash. It’s a rare beast of a film that is genuinely engaging from the opening scene and doesn’t let go, packed full of humor, pleasing panoramas and inventive camera work and a distinctive cinematography. It’s not a gory western like The Proposition or Open Range and lots of holding the hand to hearts when shot and falling off horses and so suitable for older kids who see far worse on YouTube. There is nothing sadistic or gritty about it. It just give off that pleasing warm feeling of the viewer witnessing something on screen that’s new and original and offers us great promise for McLean’s movies to come. I had that same feeling the first time I saw Sci-Fi movie Serenity by Josh Whedon.

RATINGS – 6.9/10.0 (30,623votes) – 93% critic’s approval –72 % critic’s approval

Special Features

-Deleted Scenes-

Not that many a sign of a good director.

-Audio Commentary-

Of course the director is going to do a layered track for his first movie.

-The Black Heist-

A short film with Michael Fassbinder

-On Strange Land-

The Making of Slow West. The new superstar director looks like h wrote on the Viz magazine.


Talking heads stuff from the director and cast.

-SW in Super8-

It was going to be shot in 35mm film but ended up a digital shoot. It’s just a faster process and much cheaper. Here is the film trailer in Super8, what Westerns were shot in back then.


Independent –‘As the title suggests, Maclean is in no hurry. Even at the most climactic moments, he always looks for an offbeat perspective.’

Little White Lies –‘That magical combo: a debut feature that knows exactly where it's going and leaves you wanting more’.

The Guardian –‘It's only slow in the way a rattlesnake or a predatory killer is slow. This terrific film is actually tense, twisty and brilliant’ –‘The tone of the film, a darkly absurdist frontier odyssey, recalls both the films of the Coen Brother and the novels of Cormac McCarthy’.

The Mail –‘This quirky, confident Western belies the fact it is the director's first feature, and marks him out as one to watch’.

Rolling Stone –‘It may skimp on its characters, but with a mostly successful amalgamation of various tones, Slow West is a beautiful and bold shot in the arm for the genre’.

The telegraph –‘Slow West derives its strength not only from its multi-layered story but also from its spectacular visuals of a geography, which simultaneously seems subliminally awe-inspiring and menacing’.


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Comments on this review

  • Secre published 15/03/2017
    Nicely done!
  • euphie published 11/02/2017
    vh :o)
  • kojak123 published 09/02/2017
    Ace review, one to look for.
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Product Information : Slow West (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Actor(s) (Last name, First name): Fassbender, Michael

Director(s): John Maclean

DVD Region: DVD

Classification: 15 years and over

EAN: 5055761906226

Production Year: 2015

Video Category: Feature Film

Actor(s): Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Caren Pistorius, Rory McCann, Ben Mendelsohn


Listed on Ciao since: 29/01/2017