The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

 

starstarstarstar

 


The latest from the Coen brothers is a six-part anthology set in the Old West and is an atmospheric, unexpected pleasure.

 
Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The

 

Another gem from the Coen Brothers. This highly original script was initially conceived as a television series but is now this six-part anthology about the Wild West, which deservedly won the best screenplay award at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

 

In the episode The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Tim Blake Nelson is deliciously funny as the eponymous hero, a singing cowboy with a warrant on his head. Stylish and full of surprises.

 

James Franco is brilliant in Near Algodones and is almost unrecognisable as a notorious outlaw who gets his just deserts when he attempts to rob a remote bank.

 

Liam Neeson is a theatre impresario in The Meal Ticket – his travelling show features the excellent Harry Melling as an extraordinary artist. Engaging and totally unexpected!

 

The arrival of Prospector Tom Waits, a determined man searching for gold in All Gold Canyon, suddenly interrupts the serenity of the beautiful landscape by a river. Waits delivers a highly physical performance as a man blinkered by his ambition.

 

Zoe Kazan is very strong and affecting as The Gal Who Got Rattled. Her Alice is a vulnerable but hopeful young woman who joins a long wagon trail of settlers seeking a new life.

 

The Mortal Remains takes place in a stagecoach where a fascinatingly unlikely group of people (including Tyne Daly and Brendan Gleeson) are travelling towards a mysterious destination. This last tale is very atmospheric and spooky!

 

Overall, a diverse and highly engaging film which boasts strong production values and superb cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel, whose colour palette evokes the period magnificently!

 

GEORGE SAVVIDES

 

Cast: Tyne Daly, James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Heck, Grainger Hines, Zoe Kazan, Harry Melling, Liam Neeson, Tim Blake Nelson, Jonjo O'Neill, Chelcie Ross, Saul Rubinek, Tom Waits, David Krumholtz, Clancy Brown, Stephen Root, Ralph Ineson.

 

Dir Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Pro Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Megan Ellison, Sue Naegle and Robert Graf, Screenplay Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Ph Bruno Delbonnel, Pro Des Jess Gonchor, Ed Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Music Carter Burwell, Costumes Mary Zophres.

 

Annapurna Pictures-Artificial Eye.

133 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 9 November 2018. Cert. 15.