The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) is an Academy Award-nominated Western anthology film, directed by the prestigious Coen Brothers. The movie contains six self-contained tales, each one exploring a different aspect of the American Wild West.
How to Stream or Download The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
You will be able to stream or to download the movie using the Netflix app. If you like Western movies you should also download and check out The Magnificent Seven (2016).
The Movie Review
From bank robberies to travel trains, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs peeks into the lives of various scavengers and settlers. It’s a highly cosmetic movie, with beautiful imagery and an exceptionally charming presentation. The sharply written script effortlessly envelopes the viewer into the world, making it a highly immersive viewing experience.
The film starts out with the simple tale of the titular character, Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson). One of the fastest shooters in the West, Buster happens upon a small village and seeks refreshment. His bright and innocent demeanor is greatly offset by his incredible skill with a revolver and the ensuing bloodshed.
Like all the tales in the movie, this one shows us both the beauty and tragedy of the 19th century-era America with a bit of song and style. To say The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a quirky film would be a massive understatement.
Since The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is essentially six short movies in one film, the tone of the experience ranges from charming to suspenseful and everywhere in between.
The Western setting of the anthology lends itself well to a variety of stories that span the genres, so regardless of what kind of Western fan you are (or even if you’re not), the film has a story for you. Most of the tales are odd in some way but masterfully written.
You shouldn’t expect huge action scenes in each story; some of them are quiet, simple, and brief. However, the movie does have a good number of shootouts and classic gun-slinging action.
Despite that, this is a far more intimate film than most Westerns, drawing the viewer deep into its words and images. Some may find the prolonged shots and massive silences boring, while others will revel in their artistry.
One of the strongest aspects of the film is its visual aesthetic, which is a mixture of classic Western themes and a painting-like vivid color palette. Regardless of which of the many tales is being told, the visuals are always incredible. From dusty banks to picturesque countryside, the movie is notably scenic.
Despite how dirty the Western genre is known for being, the movie strikes a great balance between grimy and clean. Colors are vivid and clear, and many frames are a feast for the eyes. The American West always has a charming aesthetic on film, but this is arguably the best looking Western film in years.
Few Western films manage to produce the amount of excitement and honest charm that one does. The characters you’ll meet across the six unique stories are often personable, memorable, and effective.
The settings and locations are as beautiful as they are dangerous. The fantastic script is performed to near perfection, thanks to the massively talented cast.
In the end, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs stands as a time capsule that takes us back to the 19th Century. Complete with catchy Western tunes and bloody gunfights, this is one Western you’ll want to watch.
- Memorable characters and stories that will stick with you
- Absolutely gorgeous visuals
- Immersive storytelling and audio design that creates quality suspense and action
- Lengthy silences and a lack of dialogue may be boring
- Some of the stories feel like they end far too early