The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs ★★★★½

Would honestly be my pick for the best of the Coen Bros. if not for the belabored extension of the first half of the penultimate segment. While the conclusion of the segment in question did firmly cement the preceding whole as another contribution to the directors' tried and true tenets, a tendency toward balancing warmth and pessimism as well as a penchant for violence hearkening back to the unyielding fortitude of No Country for Old Men, with a dose of potent irony so real, one could choke on it, provided that one was not prepared.

The remainder of the segments flow with the ease and briskness of water, up to and including the third segment, which seems to be the disfavored among most of the community, possibly on account of its attempted juxtaposition of absurdity and melancholy, with the latter being of significantly greater subtlety than the former, but was nevertheless entirely discernible from the first moment to the last. The first and fourth segments are, by my belief, and without exaggeration, quite possibly the best comedic and dramatic works of the Coen Brothers, respectively. Segment two follows much in the same tonal vein as segment four, while segment six is a full-force weaponization of the articulate wit that composed one-half of the arsenal featured in the first segment, but are distinct enough in story to be of their own class in terms of intent. The third and fifth segments I have already covered, and each segment shares a certain richness in visual composition and period design.

Were I to rate each segment individually as a short film, or rather, as the episodic portions in which they were apparently originally intended to be released. it would be as follows:

"The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" - 10/10
"Near Algodones" - 9/10
"Meal Ticket" - 9/10
"All Gold Canyon" - 10/10
"The Gal Who Got Rattled" - 7/10
"The Mortal Remains" - 8/10

(Mid) 9 / 10 - Outstanding

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