Slow West

Slow West ★★★½

Slow West ambles at a pleasingly human pace, alive with colorful characters that look like rough drafts for another Coen Brothers Western, and blessed with a winning touch of magical realism.

Fassbender is just too much talent riding alongside of Smit-McPhee, who plays what he's given just fine, but when you have two thinly drawn characters and cast them with a Giant and a Rookie, the Giant is going to carry the movie. Still, there's just enough amusing storytelling here to keep me engaged, enough to make me realize what a little understated humor could have done for the overbearingly solemn Ain't Them Bodies Saints. It casually and patiently sets stage for a fantastic and furious finale that's worth the ticket price. And its simplistic map of key locations, along with its short list of necessary characters, sent me out imagining a rich stage-play script that might make more of this material.

Over time, I think this film will seem like a pleasant but not particularly substantial diversion. However, right now, in the midst of this ongoing and apparently endless nightmare of comic-book-hero inanity, this feels like a much-needed dose of thoughtful and spacious storytelling for grownups. I'm not hating on superheroes — on occasion, they surprise me with something good. But cinema's revenge of the nerds has made any occasion of moderately thoughtful moviemaking for humans feel as substantial as Shakespeare.

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