Slow West Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Caren Pistorious. Directed by John Maclean. Rated R. Available May 15 on Video on Demand.
Slow is the operative word in John Maclean’s meditative Western Slow West, about a young man’s doomed quest to reunite with the love of his life. Sixteen-year-old Jay (Kodi Smit-McPhee) travels from Scotland to Colorado in 1870, and just as he’s overwhelmed by the savagery of the frontier, he meets stoic drifter Silas (Michael Fassbender), who offers to help him track down the girl who got away. Despite the familiar Western setup, writer-director Maclean is more interested in meditations on love and death than in gunfights, and most of the movie is a quiet, discursive journey with flashes of dry humor. That is, until the blood-soaked finale, a beautifully staged and filmed shootout with moments of heartbreak and irony, sometimes simultaneously. Jay’s fate is both poetic and anticlimactic, delivered with the same mix of deadpan wit and Old West grit as the rest of the movie.