Sundance-winning western, the feature debut from writer-director John Maclean. Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) is the mysterious companion of a teenager (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Let Me In) as they traverse 19th century frontier America in search of the young man’s long-lost love. The film was shot in the New Zealand town of Twizel, Canterbury.
"Jay (Smit-McPhee) is a lovelorn 17-year-old Scottish aristocrat who travels to the American West at the close of the 19th century to track down his former lover. Confronted with the harsh realities of the frontier, he falls in with a rough and mysterious traveller named Silas (Fassbender), who soon discovers that the focus of Jay’s affection has a price on her head. Together, the two navigate a vast, untamed wilderness while attempting to stay one step ahead of a bloodthirsty posse and colourful bounty hunter. Their search leads to a bloody confrontation where Jay’s romanticism is the first of many casualties." (Sundance Film Festival)
Maclean, who was also a musician for The Beta Band and The Aliens, co-wrote a few of the songs on the film's soundtrack. "I wanted to use music in the same way as a film like Deliverance did," Maclean explains. "I was hoping if I put enough music in it, I wouldn’t have to put any music on it.”
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize winner at Sundance Film Festival 2015; Cinematography, Production Design and Best Score, NZ Film Awards 2017
2015Rating: M, Violence and coarse language84 minsUK, New Zealand
The title Slow West might have you worried that you’re in for a long, boring, pretentious Western. Thankfully, writer-director John Maclean’s striking feature debut is the opposite kind of Western – it’s refreshingly concise, running shy of 90 minutes; it’s cleverly paced, using quieter scenes to elevate the impactful ones; and it’s uncompromisingly intelligent, never once turning into pompous art-wank.