Slow West 2015 ***

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John Maclean’s debut film is an offbeat Western which features the star of his BAFTA-winning short, Pitch Black Heist, Michael Fassbender. Kodi-Smidt-McPhee plays a young Scotsman befriended by Fassbinder’s gruff stranger who a cross -ountry trek to find a lost sweetheart. Ben Mendelsohn makes a suitable adversary, but Slow West never conforms to genre expectations, feeling more like a road movie with horses, and with sudden, shocking violence in the vein of Dead Man. The sight of a washing line hung between the men’s horses as they ride sets a whimsical tone that’s laced with dark humour. Slow West has echoes of The Coen Brothers’ version of True Grit; a semi-mythical West, unexpected in its simplicity, deadly in outlook.

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