The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a Netflix Original film presented as an anthology of smaller tales. This movie is made of sixth different smaller and completely standalone looks at the west. It's a rather savage series of events from those days and be warned, there are no happy stories from that time. This is a beautifully well done selection of tales and while not every single one may be perfect for each person out there, the variety is most certainly impressive. I loved the balance of action against calmer segments that looked at the condition of human nature.
Told through special chapters these are the six ventures in this overall film; "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs", "Near Algodones", "Meal Ticket", "All Gold Canyon", "The Gal Who Got Rattled" and "The Mortal Remains". While each does something new I believe the first, which is the "Ballad" to be my absolute favorite as it was just an intense time. Another wild and striking part was "The Gal Who Got Rattled". The Coen brothers once again bring their signature style and it's shown more in some of the offerings than others. You really get a little bit of everything here and it's also provided in a way that you could view one portion of this at a time.
This was one beautifully shot film, each story had a wildly different feel to it while still presenting a realistic part of the west. There were open skies, gritty buildings and a sorrowing set of trails. The actors were fantastic, varied and really delivered in their performances throughout. I found each to be a splendid time and there was so many levels of complexity with this being based on just which of the anthology you were watching.
You really have to sit there after viewing it to really let the whole situation sink in entirely. I'm not sure every story will be a hit with each audience and the ones with a deeper meaning hide towards the latter part of this production. While I wasn't immediately sucked into some of them, if you continue watching the reveals are always worth it. I only found one to be rather vague and I believe many will miss the point of it since it's pure chatter, still a very powerful draw is presented in that one.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a near perfect collection of films that make up one epic western anthology of striking moments and deep sorrow. You're never sure what's going to happen and while it starts out happy; the realism and actual authenticity of the west will give you a swift, rude slap in the face. There's a beautiful balance of narratives featuring action and those with softer focuses. Still, you'll always be surprised and it's so shocking for the majority of the time.
This is one gorgeously shot series of films with each looking distinct and they're just the most charming of things. I also thoroughly enjoyed the use music as characters would often provide a tune and this is a signature style from the Coens that works too well here. The scenery was stunning, the shots looked remarkable and it was a true standout from other releases as you would get lost in the larger world. It was certainly authentic to the times with each story being a different part of this large, dangerous west.
We have six great mini stories here and while they're not cohesive, it is certainly worthwhile to watch in a row. Great actors, fantastic acting and so many moments that will surprise. It would be odd if you didn't at least love the majority of this exciting ballad.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Review at Home with Streamed Viewing