Netflix redefines western with ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’

By Edwin Kelso

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a Netflix original movie that entertains audiences while still having something for both avid moviegoers and people just passing through. This movie was nominated at the 91st Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design and Best Original Song (“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings”).

Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, the movie styles an authentic western aesthetic and also includes a star-studded cast. Including Timothy Blake Nelson, James Franco, and Liam Neeson to name a few.

The film is a collection of five completely separate short stories. These stories can range anywhere from the very light hearted in nature to the very real and pugnacious wild west. Entire stories can be dialogue driven while others take a much more silent and action based approach.

It is clear that the Coen brothers have again swung for the fences and hit a movie straight into the history books for American cinema. This film easily contends with the best of them. Never has a westerns story and characters been so well written since 3:10 to Yuma.

This film truly captivates the audience for the entire run time of two hours and thirteen minutes. Each performance is worthy of praise, however, the performance that stole the show would be Timothy Blake Nelson’s Interpretation of Buster Scruggs himself. While no performance was particularly bad the fact that we are given little time to get to know Buster as a character and still fall in love with his antics speaks volumes to both his performance and the writing.

This man can do no wrong and shows his range as both an actor and admittedly a very gifted musician. The stories while starting light-hearted with an ever-present sense of comedic relief around every corner make a progressive shift into the more morbid humor and nihilistic tone.

The writing in this film is nothing short of masterful, when watching you will feel truly immersed in each story that these characters wish to tell. In conclusion, this film was an absolute pleasure to watch and everyone should stop by to give it a well deserved look. Especially those who love typically Coen brothers films.

Very little wrong with this film. For everything this film does right more could have been done for the unconventional storytelling aspect. This film is easily one of the top ten best films of all time for Netflix original content. Phenomenal work from the Coen brothers and all who had a hand in making it.