This is my first review, I wanted to save it for a movie that I was touched by and one that gave me something I didn't expect, in essence a film that gave me everything that I thought it wouldn't.
Slow West magnificently portrays the human condition, with all it's defects and strengths. It rather wonderfully and in a very subtle way exposes it's capacity for love and betrayal, loyalty and mistrust, fear and courage. It reveals to us that desperate good people do terrible things to survive in hard times, how hard bitten and essentially broken souls have the means and wherewithal to do good and be forgiving. It shows how we can be innocent and naive and yet still be able to teach, how we can be overly aggressive and yet protective, greedy yet also so very giving. The true wonder of this film is to me is that it exposes to us that all of us can be all of the above at some point in our lives, that we all have the capacity for evil or good and sometimes it is only circumstance that turns us either onto or away from a particular path. It's theme to me is the delicate balance between success and death in the American west during that period from the standpoint of choices made, and to my mind I think it succeeds in portraying this exceptionally well.
Many of the reviews I have read on here in regards to this film say it is far too slow, I don't think it is at all, it is a journey, a gradual layering of the story building to a climax, it is not supposed to be action and bells and whistles from the off, I think it is a film that ultimately is trying to make you think; you are invited to explore who we are and what we are capable of as humans in hostile conditions.
The performances are excellent all round, the thoroughly underrated Ben Medelsohn particularly as the 'realist' outlaw and Michael Fassbender who commands the screen in all his scenes, as he so often does. I think the writing of the dialogue is fantastic and nuanced, the humour dry and cleverly interspersed and the attention to period detail almost faultless. My only gripe is that there are a couple of scenes that don't seem to fit the narrative, maybe that is what slows this film down for some.
I understand that that this kind of western or period drama for that matter is not to everyones taste, that for many 'action' is the byword by which these films stand or fall, well to that I say to each their own. If however you are keen to watch a movie that attempts to reflect back to you just what it means to be a person with all a persons flaws, and how circumstance can shape us into the judged or judgemental, then this very well may be a worthwhile watch for you.