About the Movie
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is a 2018 Drama/Comedy film, written and directed by the Coen brothers. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and is anthology of short films adapted from different short stories. If you want more content about Academy award nominated films check out my article here.
Uploaded by Netflix
This Synopsis was taken from Rotten Tomatoes.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a six-part Western anthology film, a series of tales about the American frontier told through the unique and incomparable voice of Joel and Ethan Coen. Each chapter tells a distinct story about the American West.
My Overall Thoughts
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” was not at all what I expected. If you just watch the trailer like I did, you will think that it is a comedy with some action adventure going on. I actually did not realize that it was an anthology of short films, until I was watching it (because I didn’t bother to read any reviews). I was looking forward to nice and easy fun time with a few chuckles sprinkled in here and there. But, while the film can be goofy at times, it is in the end more surreal and heart-wrenching than funny.
The Best Parts of the Movie
The film can be praised for many things, as it was rightly well received by critics. A. O. Scott from the NYTimes says,
A. O. Scott, The NYTimes
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs swerves from goofy to ghastly so deftly and so often that you can’t always tell which is which.”
I completely agree with his words.
Each and every actor in “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” does their work superbly well, the characters are memorable, interesting and they make you feel their emotions. Several times in the film, the audience is not told something explicitly, however, we are able to infer it easily from the emotional cues given to us through the acting (though this is also a sign of good writing.)
The script for the film is very well structured and nuances. Each successive story carries the emotional progression to the next stage very well . Also, the script does not spoon-feed the audience by making every plot point completely obvious, it gives credit to our intelligence and lets us come to our own conclusions.
The Technical Aspects
I am told that “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” uses a lot of subtle CGI throughout its run, however, I didn’t notice it all, so kudos to them I guess. I made this section to praise the cinematography, which was in my opinion simply brilliant. The film looks good. The colours in each story ad to the emotional weight and the plot of the film.
Things That Were Meh
My main gripe here is that I went into the film expecting something completely different than what I got. This is not a film to watch if you want lightheartedness. It will make you cry.
Also, the title story of the film “The Ballad of Buster Scrugs”, I was actually least impressed by the story of the same name, and it is the first one. The same thing I praised previously (how the film’s emotional progression happens naturally), is a major pitfall for the film here, because the first story doesn’t have the same weight as the others. The second one is slightly better but not by all that much.
My main feeling at the end of the film was dissatisfaction, (mainly because of my expectations) and that’s not really how you want your audience to feel about your story.
My Final Thoughts
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” tugs at your heartstrings and engages one intellectually. I recommend you watch it if you are in the mood for reflection.
My rating for this film is 7/10.
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