Kodi Smit-McPhee and Michael Fassbender in Slow West

Michael Fassbender remains on a fantastic roll with Slow West, a gritty, appropriately downbeat Western from writer-director John Maclean.

Fassbender plays Silas, a cynical, grouchy rider on the American frontier in the 19th century who comes across Jay (Kodi-Smit McPhee), a Scottish boy who is travelling alone in search of Rose (Caren Pistorius), a girl he loves. She had to flee to America with her father after an accident, and now they have a bounty on their heads. Silas knows about the bounty—but he doesn’t tell Jay.

After coming across a group of bandits led by Payne (the ever-reliable Ben Mendelsohn), Silas must decide who he’s going to back—the boy or the bandits.

Slow West is a great ride, with a vivid depiction of the old West unlike any I’ve seen before. By the time the action reaches Rose’s farm—a single house out in the middle of nowhere—you get a true sense of just how few people were inhabiting that part of the world at this particular time.

McPhee is heartbreaking as a young man who just doesn’t get it, and Fassbender continues to prove he’s a cinematic treasure. They make a great screen duo.

I’m very interested in seeing what this Maclean fellow does next.

Slow West is available on demand and via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com.