The Coen brothers are back with The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which in a way is a return to the more expensive themes to the most famous directors/writers of modern cinema: the balance between violence and comedy, plus powerful social criticism in plots that look simple, but that have enormous depth.
And of course, in this new feature they had the opportunity to return to the Old West, one of their favorite times to set their plots on (watch here).
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” in fact, should be a six-part series financed and produced by Netflix. In the middle of the way, the Coen decided to condense the six stories – which happened in the same environment – in a single project, interspersing the narratives and trying to give cohesion to its conclusion, uniting the ends. Perhaps, because it was planned one way and executed in another, the film has so many narrative defects.
Not that they are flawed. If the Coen brothers had followed the original idea and turned those stories into a series, it would be fantastic. There would be plenty of time to develop all of it and give the tragicomic touch they both venerate. Here we have only glimpses of the sensational characters that could be. Featuring actors from the caliber of Liam Neeson, James Franco and even Tom Waits in the cast, it’s hard to miss. And everyone is excellent in their roles, each in their own way. The problem, as we can see, is structure, not lack of competence.
Even with that flaw, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is still a movie worth watching. Visually stunning, with fantastic photography and editing as is characteristic of the Coen films, the feature provides some laughter – even if it’s a nervous laugh because of situations as unlikely as violent. The character Buster Scruggs from the title, for example, is played with flawless debauchery by Tim Blake Nelson: in a dirty, sloppy and seemingly abandoned world, he always comes up in a white suit, impeccably clean and with a huge smile on his face. Just the fact that this guy is amid the brutes of the Wild West is a joke. However, the character has a lot more to show.
Synopsis 1: Saloon shootouts, vigilante justice, covered wagons on the trail. Saddle up for six Wild West tales, Coen brothers-style.
Synopsis 2: Ranring from absurd to profound, these Western vignettes from the Coen brothers follow the adventures of outlaws and settlers on the American frontier.
Age rating: 16;