“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” could be a movie. If that seems an odd thing to say at the top of a review for the Coen Brothers’ newest film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, that is because the “Buster Scruggs” of Buster Scruggs is only a fraction of the overall film. Or to be more precise, it is the first (and best) short film in an anthology of six Western yarns written and directed with real affection by Joel and Ethan Coen. And while among the other five shorts in the piece there are also gems (as well as a few pieces of fool’s gold), the picture never quite overcomes how strong the first short was.
Opening on a vast wide shot in John Ford’s cinematic backyard,