Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘Slow West’ (2015)



Just about the only purity and innocence you’ll see in Slow West are the breathtakingly pristine natural vistas of this country in 1870 – mountains, rivers, fields and day-and-midnight-blue skies – and Jay Cavendish, a lovestruck teen from Scotland who’s traveling through “the baking heart of America” to locate the woman he fell for in his homeland.

Written and directed by John Maclean, the stunningly minimalist Slow West begins with Silas (Michael Fassbender), a loner on horseback, stumbling upon and saving the life of the upper-class Jay (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Jay tells Silas about Rose Ross (Caren Pistorius), the young Scottish woman who fled, along with her father (Rory McCann), to America, because of an incident for which Jay holds himself responsible. “We love each other,” says Jay. “Sure, kid,” responds the man. And, in short order, cunning but fatherly Silas has talked Jay into hiring him as a chaperone.

What Jay doesn’t seem to know – and Silas does – is that the Rosses have considerable dead-or-alive bounties on their heads. Silas, in helping the youngster find Rose, gets the reward. But even if it looks as though Silas might soften his mercenary goals, there’s another problem. Looking for the same payoff are other bounty hunters, the most prominent of whom is Payne (Ben Mendelsohn, the go-to person for depicting every spectrum of the darkness in men’s hearts), with whom Silas has had a past connection.

However, it’s the sensitive Jay who has Neptunian visions of what’s to come, as he stares into the night heavens carpeted with constellations. Paralleling Jay’s ability to eradicate boundaries are characters who aren’t always what they seem. Nowhere is the deceit – in stark contrast with the clarity of the land’s magnificent natural wonders – more striking than in the bearskin-jacketed Payne, who represents the higher and lower nature of man, a split that the Wild West only accentuates.

Jay’s commitment, Silas’ solitariness and paternal urges, bounty hunters’ expediency, and the law – or its absence – are all the bailiwick of rule-setting and organization-building Saturn. One character refers to the civilization that might one day arrive. The bad news is it already has.

Archetype: Loner. Lover. Mercenary. Civilization. Primitivism.
Astrology Archetype: ♄ (Saturn)

Facebook Twitter Email