More acclaim for Slow West

19 April, 2015 by Don Groves

Michael Fassbender in Slow West.

Slow West, writer-director John Maclean’s Western starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn, has won more critical plaudits in the US after its weekend screening at the Tribeca Film Festival.


Shot in Scotland and New Zealand and produced by See-Saw Films, Fassbender and Conor McCaughan’s DMC and Rachel Gardiner, the film will get an innovative release in Australia by Transmission Films.

The distributor will announce the launch date and strategy later this week. “We're doing something a bit different with this one,” co-founder Andrew Mackie tells IF.  

The debut feature from Scot Maclean, who directed the BAFTA award-winning short film Pitch Black Heist, which starred Fassbender, the film will premiere at the Sydney Film Festival in June. 

Set at the end of the 19thCentury, Slow West follows 16-year-old Jay Cavendish ( Smit-McPhee) as he journeys across the American frontier in search of the woman he loves, accompanied by Silas (Michael Fassbender), a mysterious traveller. They’re being pursued by an outlaw ( Mendelsohn).

A24 and DirecTV acquired the US rights before its world premiere the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where it got rave reviews.

The title is now available to rent online on DirecTV for $US11.99 and will debut in US cinemas and on-demand on May 15.

After the Tribeca screening Comic Book Resources’ Kristy Puchko enthused, “I have never seen a Western quite like Slow West. From Michael Fassbender’s opening snarls of dialogue, there’s a touch of romance and magic to the film that gives it a defining whimsy, even in its darkest moments. This is not the wild west of John Wayne, but that of Jay Cavendish, Slow West’s charming but frightfully naïve hero played by a lanky and enchanting Kodi Smit-McPhee.

“Slow West is full of fine performances. Fassbender and Smit-McPhee’s chemistry crackles from their first introduction. The doe-eyed ingenue makes the picture perfect babe in the woods, while Fassbender nestles deep into the sultry sex appeal of his rogue, then finds new colours in his regrets and fragile hope. When Mendelsohn enters the mix, threat and adrenaline come with him, along with a bad guy so damn charismatic it’s criminal.”

CBS’s Jonathon Sharp declared, “Perhaps if one mixed the cinematic vision of the Coen brothers with the Rocky Mountain vistas and greasy leather hats of Red Dead Redemption, the result would be something like John Maclean’s incredibly stylish and surprisingly funny Slow West.

“The Scottish writer/director’s first feature is part love story, part coming-of-age tale that examines the collision of immigrant cultures on the plains and mountains of America’s lawless frontier.

“While Slow West has some moral weight, Maclean seems much more interested in having fun with his western. The tone, for instance, will switch from tragic to absurd after a single well-placed gag. As a result, the film isn’t a romance at all. Instead, it’s an exercise in style, with stunning beauty, epic gunfights and laughs that’ll stick like a spur in your memory.”