Movie Review: Michael Fassbender is a bounty hunter on a mission in the poky, odd oater Slow West

About halfway through Slow West, set in 1870, our hero, a Scottish boy named Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee), leaves his campsite late at night to take a leak. After he’s relieved himself, he heads back the wrong way, accidentally stumbling onto another campsite altogether. Fortunately, this group of strangers isn’t hostile. One of them, in fact, proceeds to tell Jay a lengthy, humorous anecdote about a young would-be gunslinger who longed to be infamous enough to merit a “Wanted: Dead Or Alive” poster. This story has unmistakable thematic resonance—much of Slow West is devoted to demythologizing the classic Western, and the misguided lust for glory plays into that. But what it demonstrates most conclusively is that writer-director John Maclean, making his first feature after a career spent mostly as a musician (notably as a member of The Beta Band), knows how to tell a terrific yarn. Why …

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