When it comes to story telling very few directors have managed to do it better than the Coen Brothers. This Netflix original showcases their talent perfectly. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs tells five unrelated stories all set around the time of the old west. Each tale providing a unique experience. A blend of comical with dark undertones, the Coen’s putting their writing talents together they provide something that feels both satirical and meaningful.
Originally intended as a Netflix TV mini series the film is split into five chapters, some of which are better than others with ‘Meal Ticket’ and ‘The Mortal Remains’ being the stand outs for me. As expected from a Coen picture The Ballard of Buster Scruggs is rich in character. Opening with a singing Tim Blake Nelson playing a fast shooting cowboy, half expecting this to be the tone throughout becomes immediately squandered when we’re introduced to the movies second act which focuses on a more action based approach. The following acts become increasingly morbid, and dive into the darker elements of Coen’s previous work coming further away from the usual light hearted entertainment of films like ‘The Big Lebowski’ or ‘O Brother, Where art thou’.
It feels like both a mockery and an ode to the classic westerns and makes for a brilliant addition to the Coen cataloge of movies. Love or hate it’s layout, there’s something to be enjoyed from each of its segments.