The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: Film Review

Updated on December 3, 2018

The Dangerous Frontier of Life

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is the latest Netflix original, and the new Coen Brothers film that has taken them several years to finally make. It is an anthology series, a movie comprised of six stories, all different from the last but with one cohesive theme. The movie explores the cruelty of man and the unfairness of life, and what a better setting to do that than the harsh western landscape.

As mentioned, the film is a string of six radically unique tales. Some heartbreaking, some funny. Some straight-up weird, but like the tracks of a song on an album, it flows. There is a cohesiveness, and as mentioned above, all stories are connected by the theme of death. We can't escape it. In real life, whether past or present, some die sooner than others. Some die tragically, comically, or unfairly, but we all die. Without giving too much away, although I have already lightly spoiled the message of the film, and you can pretty much guess in each story someone will die, I will spare you major details by not revealing who, and how.

There are plenty of surprises, twists, and turns along the way to each story. They all don't end just quite how you thought. You will just have to watch and see.

This movie stars, Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, and Liam Neeson. Among many others. All in their own individual stories. Each with a complete arch, and all of them beautifully and artfully shot with terrific western banter. Some of it quirky, and some of it real. The Coen Brothers have a deep love for the western genre, they even poke fun at it as much as they honor it.

It is true, some stories are weaker than others. I can't say you will enjoy every single one. But it is worth a watch, as this movie talks about the loneliness a person can have, or how we can get mixed up in an unlucky situation. It is the harsh truth of reality, as one character puts it in the very last story of the film, "We love hearing about ourselves. As long as the people in the stories are us, but not us. Not us in the end especially." It is haunting film that lingers after it is finished. At first you won't understand what you just saw, but after some thought, you will realize that you enjoyed it more than you thought. I know I did.

I give The Ballad of Buster Scruggs five out of five stars! It is streaming on Netflix now.


Have you seen The Ballad of Buster Scruggs? What did you think?

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    • Thepagemaster profile imageAUTHOR

      LA Film Institute 

      18 months ago

      Thank you! Glad it did.

    • reyvirre profile image


      18 months ago

      Somehow I enjoyed every single one of these stories, each is so pleasing to the eye and quirky in its own. I loved this film, and I couldn't explain what it is that made me love it so much. Your article certainly helped.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      20 months ago from Norfolk, England

      I've yet to see this, but it sounds very interesting. I'll put this on my watch list.


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