DVD review: Slow West (9 out of 10)

Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee in Slow West
Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee in Slow West

John Maclean’s full length movie directorial debut is a powerful and superbly crafted film, with a cast that many more experienced people in the business would give their right arm for.

Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn lead the way in a Western that moves away from the norm thanks to Maclean who also wrote the story.

Smit-McPhee plays Jay Cavendish, the son of a Scottish Lord who has travelled to America to track down his lost love.

She has run away with her father following an incident which Jay believes was mostly his fault.

While crossing the Wild West he meets Silas Selleck, played by Fassbender, an outlaw who offers his help to get Jay to his destination.

But does Silas have an alternative motive?

And then there’s Payne (Mendelsohn), a particularly unpleasant outlaw leader who has his eyes on a big prize.

We get to see the sad state of affairs in 1870 rural America, with people struggling desperately to survive.

Native Indians, outlaws, and ordinary folk, driven to extreme measures, are encountered as we follow Jay on his journey.

Suffice it to say this is no formulaic story and is much better because of it.

Some elements could have done with a bit of tightening up but McLean has shown he is a talent who has a good eye for detail.

His use of New Zealand in place of America provides some stunning scenery.

The main actors are excellent and even those in the smaller roles give very solid performances.

It’s a superb gritty tale that has already picked up some awards.

The DVD also includes Maclean’s excellent short film Pitch Black Heist from 2011, also starring Fassbender.

The digital download is available and the DVD and Blu-ray will be out on November 2.

Film details: Slow West (15) 84mins

Director: John Maclean

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn