Western gallops at an impressive pace

Slow West - Silas (Michael Fassbender)
Slow West - Silas (Michael Fassbender)

Slow West (15, 83 mins)

Western/Drama/Action. Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbende. Director: John Maclean.

John Maclean, one-time DJ and sampler with The Beta Band, makes an impressive feature film directorial debut with this stylish western shot on location in New Zealand.

Confidently abiding by conventions of the genre, Slow West is a classic coming of age story, which positions a resourceful young woman at the heart of the blood-spattered action.

Maclean’s script, which gallops to just 83 minutes, won’t leave audiences saddle sore and the writer-director confidently orchestrates shoot outs that culminate in a double-digit body count.

Slow West is a compelling portrait of an era, as seen through the eyes of a jack rabbit, who has strayed into a den of wolves.

Kodi Smit-McPhee brings an appealing innocence to his stargazing dreamer, who learns harsh lessons about placing trust in strangers on the road.

In stark contrast, Michael Fassbender swaggers with ominous intent, shrouding his character in ambiguity so we are never entirely sure of his allegiances until a barnstorming final reckoning.

The actors are an exceedingly odd couple, yet somehow the mismatch works.