The Phoenix

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Movie Review

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was intended to be a six-episode series for Netflix. Its writer-directors, Joel and Ethan Coen, decided instead to combine the episodes into one feature-length film. The movie runs about 135 minutes, and some of the parts are not as good as others. To me, it felt that some episodes were thrown together, and that it was just somewhat bland at moments. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a very great film though overall, and it does justify its existence as a movie. It’s full of amazing scenery, such as Monument Valley in Arizona, and the quality of the movie is so great, that it almost looks animated. It seems as though many people die, at unnecessarily high numbers. This somewhat all combines into a big, unexpected result. The film’s conceit is that it’s bringing to life a dusty old book of Western stories, each represented by a painted illustration that evokes the children’s books of the ‘40s and ’50s.  The first episode of this film is the most violent, because the Coen brothers display clear examples of Western heroism, with Buster, played by Tim Blake Nelson, a singing cowboy who rides through Monument Valley and then comes to a bar full of outlaws that do not serve him whiskey. Within minutes, he has shot everyone to death with the speed of a superhero. Buster is always smiling, even in a saloon fight. It’s very strange but gives a great idea of what happened in the old west.

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