For more than 30 years, Joel and Ethan Coen have been the most bizarre director duo in Hollywood. Their latest film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, is a Western anthology consisting of six independent smaller stories. Only the first of them is actually about the gunslinger Buster Scruggs. The film is both a homage and a loving parody of classic westerns with shaved cowboys in clean suits, travelling settler tracks and grey gold seekers. As so often, the Coens mix a certain weirdness with an uncomfortable sense of humor. Yet there is no lack of brutality either. The fickleness, ruthlessness and arbitrariness of the time, which was left out in the romanticized westerns of earlier days, comes to the fore here again and again. The nature of the detached episode structure ensures that identification with the characters can hardly take place in such a short time. In the same way, some sub-stories are naturally stronger, while others are somewhat more sluggish. Unfortunately, the individual stories don’t result in a larger whole. Therefore, the movie doesn’t feel very ambitious. Overall, this isn’t the best performance of the Coen brothers.
Director: Joel & Ethan Coen
Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, Tyne Daly, James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Runtime: 133 min.
Release Date: 2018/08/31 (in Venice)
Screenplay: Joel & Ethan Coen
Editor: Roderick Jaynes
Cinematography: Bruno Delbonnel