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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Since their 1985 breakout movie ‘Blood Simple’, the Coen Brothers have made several memorable films. ‘Fargo’, ‘The Big Lebowski’ and ‘No Country for Old Men’ are just a few having made a huge impact. Their unique blending of humour, drama and mystery stood them apart from others. ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ is their latest genre love-letter with its ode to Westerns filled with their quirky but captivating style.

The Old West has seen a litany of sordid actions. Such events are seen in six separate incidents. Amongst those involved are singing gunslinger Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson), a bank-robbing cowboy (James Franco) and an old prospector (Tom Waits). This motley crew reveal the underbelly of the Wild West among the dusty, desert-strewn streets.

One thing you can say about the Coen Brothers is that they’re genuine originals. ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the stories it offers represents a decent glimpse of the old West. Deception, bravery, tragedy and desperation are all starkly revealed. Some stories are longer than others although each has their own flavour making them stand out.

The performances across the board make ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ a continually absorbing experience. The Coen Brothers’ ability to wring as much as possible from their locales adds to the overall enjoyment. The cinematography is excellent, highlighting the harshness and beauty of the West in all its facets.

Whilst it may occasionally be slow, ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ is worth investing in. A Coen Brothers movie rarely disappoints as they know how to build a cohesive and interesting narrative. Their films are always ones to look forward to with their bravery in choosing offbeat subject matter not diminishing with time.

Rating out of 10: 7

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