Coen Brothers deliver another stellar period piece


Tim Blake Nelson stars as Buster Scruggs, the main character featured in one of six short films in “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” IMDb website photo

Angel Ortega

Written, directed and produced by Ethan and Joel Coen, “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is an anthology film which consists of six vignettes, or short films. Though none of the vignettes are narratively connected, they are all period pieces that focus on pioneers and settlers making their way west in post-Civil War America, in the mid-19th century.

One common motif that was highlighted in every vignette is death. What made the film stand out is how each short film approached death differently.

Some of the short films approached this motif in a comedic manner, while others were much grimmer and poignant.

Nonetheless, the use of death as a common theme and motif between all six short films created relatable characters and stories that could immerse any audience.

The writing was the driver of this film. Every character in every short film was well-rounded with distinct character traits and personalities. The dialogue was so well-written that the exchanges between characters felt authentic and added a sense of realism to the overall atmosphere of the film.

There was never a dull moment in the movie. The Western color scheme, landscapes, and overall aesthetic all helped to establish the film’s tone and mood.

This comes as no surprise though since the Coen Brothers have shown in the past that they are obsessed with the Western genre.

With films Academy Award-winning films like “No Country for Old Men” and “True Grit” under their belt, the Coen Brothers are no strangers to Western filmmaking. Their artistic integrity and obsession for the Western genre are shown once again in “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.”

Though this film doesn’t quite reach the revered standard of American cinema that the Coen Brothers have set with “No Country for Old Men,” “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is a masterpiece, nonetheless.

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is distributed by Netflix and is available to all Netflix subscribers.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Angel Ortega can be reached at [email protected] and @AngelOrtegaNews on Twitter.