‘Ballad of Buster Scruggs’: Full Cast and Synopses Revealed for Coens’ Anthology Western

     August 30, 2018


The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was originally supposed to be a 6-part TV series for Netflix. Then the Coen Brothers said, “Nah, we’re the Coens and we’ll do what we want,” and they turned it in an anthology movie that’s over two hours. The anthology consists of six shorts, and now on the eve of the film’s world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, we have details [via The Playlist] on the six shorts, what they’re called, and who stars in them:

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
Tim Blake Nelson (Buster Scruggs)
Willie Watson (The Kid)


“Near Algodones”
James Franco (Cowboy)


“Meal Ticket”
Liam Neeson (Impresario)
Harry Melling (Artist)


“All Gold Canyon”
Tom Waits (Prospector)


“The Gal Who Got Rattled”
Bill Heck (Billy Knapp)
Zoe Kazan (Alice Longabaugh)
Grainger Hines (Mr. Arthur)


“The Mortal Remains”
Brendan Gleeson (Irishman)
Tyne Daly (Lady)
Jonjo O’Neill (Englishman)
Saul Rubinek (Frenchman)
Chelcie Ross (Trapper)

Meanwhile, BFI London Film Festival’s synopsis provides details on each of the shorts:

If you want to fathom the bottomless well that is the Coens’ imagination, look no further. As storytelling goes, this is wildly idiosyncratic, undeniably hilarious and often touchingly melancholic – a cinema-brio study of the American West. Every delectable chapter presents a different story from the wild frontier, with tone and style perfectly calibrated for each tale. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs finds Tim Blake Nelson playing a sharp-shooting songster. In Near Algodones, James Franco’s wannabe bank robber gets his due and then some. And just a little bit more for good measure. Lugubrious dark humour pervades the Liam Neeson starrer Meal Ticket, a gothic tale about two weary travelling performers. Tom Waits mines a rich seam of humour in All Gold Canyon, while Zoe Kazan finds an unexpected promise of love, along with a dose of life’s cruel irony, on a wagon train across the prairies in The Gal Who Got Rattled. Finally, ghostly laughs haunt The Mortal Remains as Tyne Daly rains judgment upon a motley crew of strangers undertaking a final carriage ride. Exquisitely shot by Bruno Delbonnel and intricately designed by Jess Gonchor (with art department contributing stunning colour plate intertitles that introduce each sequence), this is one for true connoisseurs. Bedtime stories for cinema lovers.

We’ll get reactions out of this one very soon, and I’ll be eager to see how the Venice crowd reacts versus the audience at New York Film Festival.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is slated to open for a limited theatrical release on November 16th. A release date for Netflix has yet to be announced.

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