Westerns can often be formulaic and follow very similar paths. Traditionally this has been the case but with the resurgence of the genre in the last few years they’ve evolved into different kinds of parables. In John Maclean’s debut film, Slow West, he takes an offbeat approach to the subject. What on the face of it seems to be a straightforward tale of unrequited love has undercurrents flowing beneath.

Highland born Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) travels to America to find his childhood sweetheart Rose (Caren Pistorius). He stumbles upon a bounty hunter called Silas (Michael Fassbender) who agrees to help him find her. Unbeknownst to Jay there’s a bounty on Rose and her father’s head. As the pair progress along their quest, Jay begins to question Silas’ intentions and the reward attracts other less savoury characters, including Payne (Ben Mendelsohn) and his gang.

Slow West is a meditative film that at times only feels like a Western on the surface. Both Smit-Mcphee and Fassbender put in impressive performances with the supporting cast all adding to the atmosphere. Jay is lost and his obsession to find a girl despite deep down knowing that she’s not interested in him feels like an odyssey to dispel his demons and find himself. Slow West is an impressively understated film which injects another shot of fresh life into a tired genre.

Special Features:

  • – Deleted Scenes
  • – Pitch Black Heist (short film)
  • – Railroad and the Moon (Mood piece)
  • – On Strange Land: Making Slow West
  • – Interviews (Fassbender + Smit-McPhee)
  • – Jameson’s Q&A with John Maclean
  • – Slow West in Super Eight
  • – Trailer

Slow West is released on DVD and Blu-ray by Lionsgate on Monday.