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Slow West (DQ)


Stars: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, Caren Pistorius

Director: John Maclean

After the Danish western The Salvation, here's one from New Zealand - also set in America, although only some scenes look like the genuine U S of A. It's a peculiar film with a dreadful, meaningless title that was surely tempting providence; in spite of its short runtime, the movie is indeed quite leisurely, with long periods of horses riding sedately, through vegetation trying unsuccessfully to resemble the Wild West plains.

It's 1870 and the central character is Jay (Smit-McPhee with barely a trace of a Scottish accent), who journeys to America to find and be with Rose (Pistorius, low-key and convincingly resolute) and her father, who have fled Scotland following the killing of Jay's own authoritarian father.

'Adopted' by Silas, an Irish-American bounty hunter (Fassbender), Jay's soon involved in a shoot-out at a foodstore, where immigrants desperate for food and money are attempting a holdup. Jay rather oddly shoots the woman in the back, unaware that her two children are outside.

Equally oddly, the mites are taken aboard by a group of bounty hunters led by Payne (Mendelsohn), who share with Silas the knowledge that Rose and her father have prices on their heads.

All parties, including another killer posing as a priest, converge on Rose's far-flung ranchhouse for a final showdown.

This synopsis probably makes the film sound more exciting than it is; but it does have the odd striking moment - Jay and Silas string a rope between their horses to dry clothes soaked in a flash flood - and ravishing photography by Robbie Ryan.

David Quinlan

New Zealand/UK 2015. UK Distributor: LionsGate. Colour (unspecified).
83 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 21 Jun 2015