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The Most Under-Appreciated Western Movie On Netflix Right Now

While streaming giant Netflix has spent the better part of the last decade dramatically re-imaging and re-shaping the landscape of the film industry, they've also spent it keeping millions of binge-loving monthly subscribers gainfully stocked with all manner of big- and small-screen creations across virtually every cinematic genre. Fans have fully indulged in the site's overwhelming genre bouillabaisse, but there's little question that some genres invariably play a little better than others.

Dramas, comedies, and pure-bred genre flicks (sci-fi, fantasy, horror) appear to get the lion's share of streams on any given day for Netflix, but it would certainly seem that the Western category is the one most frequently overlooked by subscribers. After spending decades as one of the more legit bread-and-butter genres in showbiz, the Western has become something of the black sheep of the modern Hollywood era, with only Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained (2012) and The Hateful Eight (2015), and The Coen Bros.' 2010 True Grit remake, breaking through to the mainstream in the past decade.

That's not to say that there haven't been any other quality Westerns being produced over that same period of time. Quite the opposite is true, in fact. And even as the genre remains a tragic outlier in the streaming space and the movie biz at-large, that hasn't stopped Netflix from stacking their own platform with a legit treasure trove of delights set in the Old West. 

Of course, even among the ranks of the most overlooked movies on Netflix, there are still a couple of films that remain more under-appreciated than others. Some even remain all but undiscovered. Chief among that lot is A24's stark, stoic fever dream of a Western drama, Slow West.    

Slow West is an ethereal Western treasure well worth discovering

Don't fret if you've never heard of Slow West, because not many folks have. The film premiered to raves at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and found a distribution deal with indie powerhouse A24 Films. Unfortunately, Slow West's theatrical run was more of the "blink-and-you-miss-it" variety and, unlike so many of A24's early releases, Slow West has somehow avoided finding an audience after the fact. Whatever the case, you'll want to add it to your queue immediately, if only because it features an insanely talented cast fronted by the likes of Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, and Kodi Smit-McPhee. 

Written and directed by first-timer John MacLean, Slow West finds Smit-McPhee portraying Jay, a young Scot who's traveled all the way to the American West in hopes of finding his lost love, Rose Ross (Caren Pistorious). The West, however, proves particularly perilous for the inexperienced young man, who's eventually forced to partner with Fassbender's bounty hunter, Silas, who sniffs out his own payday upon finding Rose and her papa have a hearty bounty on their heads. 

News of that bounty spreads quickly in the West, and eventually finds the ear of Silas' dangerous former partner, Payne (Mendelsohn), who aims to claim the bounty for himself. En route to Rose's prairie hideaway, the parties all cross paths to varying degrees of classic Western entanglement. Slow West is anything but classic, however, with Maclean making sure the film lives up to its title, crafting a ponderous, dreamy little Western that makes the most of its sprawling vistas, a dizzyingly ethereal musical score, and a slew of marvelously understated performances from the entire cast. 

Fear not, Western purists, there's also plenty of gun play and tough-guy machismo at work in Slow West, even as MacLean cleverly plays fast and loose with the genre's tried and true "damsel-in-distress" motif.  It's a heady cocktail that makes this film well worth checking out for anyone who thinks they've reached the limits of the best stuff to see from Netflix's seemingly bottomless streaming menu.