Slow West

Slow West

Slow West

Sundance-winning western, the feature debut from writer-director John Maclean. Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) is the mysterious companion of a teenager (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Let Me In) as they traverse 19th century frontier America in search of the young man’s long-lost love. The film was shot in the New Zealand town of Twizel, Canterbury.

"Jay (Smit-McPhee) is a lovelorn 17-year-old Scottish aristocrat who travels to the American West at the close of the 19th century to track down his former lover. Confronted with the harsh realities of the frontier, he falls in with a rough and mysterious traveller named Silas (Fassbender), who soon discovers that the focus of Jay’s affection has a price on her head. Together, the two navigate a vast, untamed wilderness while attempting to stay one step ahead of a bloodthirsty posse and colourful bounty hunter. Their search leads to a bloody confrontation where Jay’s romanticism is the first of many casualties." (Sundance Film Festival)

Maclean, who was also a musician for The Beta Band and The Aliens, co-wrote a few of the songs on the film's soundtrack. "I wanted to use music in the same way as a film like Deliverance did," Maclean explains. "I was hoping if I put enough music in it, I wouldn’t have to put any music on it.”

World Cinema Grand Jury Prize winner at Sundance Film Festival 2015; Cinematography, Production Design and Best Score, NZ Film Awards 2017
2015Rating: R13, Violence & offensive language84 minsUK, New Zealand
ActionWestern
89%
want to see

Streaming (2 Providers)

Reviews & comments

Flicks, Liam Maguren

Flicks, Liam Maguren

flicks

The title Slow West might have you worried that you’re in for a long, boring, pretentious Western. Thankfully, writer-director John Maclean’s striking feature debut is the opposite kind of Western – it’s refreshingly concise, running shy of 90 minutes; it’s cleverly paced, using quieter scenes to elevate the impactful ones; and it’s uncompromisingly intelligent, never once turning into pompous art-wank.

4.0

Expected more

But didn't get it. Not convinced it's a hit or underrated gem

2.0

Disappointed...

Granted I had high expectations but I didn't get into this. Wasn't weird enough or straight enough. I was even bored in the first half, does have a good ending though. I love Ben Mendelsohn but thought he was wasted, and Fassbender and Smit-McPhee were fine but not strong. As a side note on the scenery, I couldn't get it out of my head that it was NZ. I...

2.0

Interesting choice of title ......

This movie is everything the title suggests .... though not really! Yes, the pace is somewhat Slow (meandering maybe a better description) for the most part, it isn't slow in the boring sense. And while it is set in the old West, it isn't actually with the scenery being very much (and sometimes slightly disconcertingly so) that of NZ. Not likely to win any...

4.0

Go west young man...

I enjoyed this movie and so did my wife even though she is not into Westerns. My only gripe was the opening stated it was 1870 "to be precise", and the handguns they all carried did not come out until 1873. But that's being nit-picky. Good story line and some humour to boot. Great also to see the NZ scenery and actors sprinkled throughout.

4.0

Slow West

Loved it ! Great characters and story - beautifully shot. Gritty with some dark comedy moments. Well done Rachel Gardner and crew !

5.0

Interesting but really slow

Like the title the film is slowly set in. Full of odd humor and aesthetic beauty. Very proud of the landscape of New Zealand. Totally as real as the West America.

4.0
Variety

Variety

press

Has a distinctly Coen-esque flavor in its mix of sly intelligence, bleak humor and unsettling violence...

Time Out

Time Out

press

Like any good Western, Slow West percolates with the constant threat of violence, but debuting feature director John Maclean wrings the genre for its mythic value.

4.0
The New York Times

The New York Times

press

An absurdist deconstruction of classic Hollywood westerns whose 21st-century view of frontier mythology is as sardonic as that of the Coen brothers.

The Guardian

The Guardian

press

The word “slow” in the title is no lie, but the movie is far from boring.

4.0
The Dissolve

The Dissolve

press

Often feels like the Coen brothers’ rendition of True Grit, if they’d brought Wes Anderson in as a collaborator.

4.0
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

press

A western fable with an often dreamlike vibe... proves to be a surprisingly sly tale of passion, greed and survival.

Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

press

Maclean's screenplay is unshowy but keen.

Flicks, Liam Maguren

Flicks, Liam Maguren

flicks

The title Slow West might have you worried that you’re in for a long, boring, pretentious Western. Thankfully, writer-director John Maclean’s striking feature debut is the opposite kind of Western – it’s refreshingly concise, running shy of 90 minutes; it’s cleverly paced, using quieter scenes to elevate the impactful ones; and it’s uncompromisingly intelligent, never once turning into pompous art-wank.

4.0
Variety

Variety

press

Has a distinctly Coen-esque flavor in its mix of sly intelligence, bleak humor and unsettling violence...

Time Out

Time Out

press

Like any good Western, Slow West percolates with the constant threat of violence, but debuting feature director John Maclean wrings the genre for its mythic value.

4.0
The New York Times

The New York Times

press

An absurdist deconstruction of classic Hollywood westerns whose 21st-century view of frontier mythology is as sardonic as that of the Coen brothers.

The Guardian

The Guardian

press

The word “slow” in the title is no lie, but the movie is far from boring.

4.0
The Dissolve

The Dissolve

press

Often feels like the Coen brothers’ rendition of True Grit, if they’d brought Wes Anderson in as a collaborator.

4.0
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

press

A western fable with an often dreamlike vibe... proves to be a surprisingly sly tale of passion, greed and survival.

Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

press

Maclean's screenplay is unshowy but keen.

Expected more

But didn't get it. Not convinced it's a hit or underrated gem

2.0

Disappointed...

Granted I had high expectations but I didn't get into this. Wasn't weird enough or straight enough. I was even bored in the first half, does have a good ending though. I love Ben Mendelsohn but thought he was wasted, and Fassbender and Smit-McPhee were fine but not strong. As a side note on the scenery, I couldn't get it out of my head that it was NZ. I...

2.0

Interesting choice of title ......

This movie is everything the title suggests .... though not really! Yes, the pace is somewhat Slow (meandering maybe a better description) for the most part, it isn't slow in the boring sense. And while it is set in the old West, it isn't actually with the scenery being very much (and sometimes slightly disconcertingly so) that of NZ. Not likely to win...

4.0

Go west young man...

I enjoyed this movie and so did my wife even though she is not into Westerns. My only gripe was the opening stated it was 1870 "to be precise", and the handguns they all carried did not come out until 1873. But that's being nit-picky. Good story line and some humour to boot. Great also to see the NZ scenery and actors sprinkled throughout.

4.0

Slow West

Loved it ! Great characters and story - beautifully shot. Gritty with some dark comedy moments. Well done Rachel Gardner and crew !

5.0

Interesting but really slow

Like the title the film is slowly set in. Full of odd humor and aesthetic beauty. Very proud of the landscape of New Zealand. Totally as real as the West America.

4.0