In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne (Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Weisz) governs the country in her stead. When a new servant Abigail (Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.
Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.
A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up.
With Italy about to go to war in 1914, this's the story of the encounter between a goatherd called Lucia, the commune of young Northern Europeans led by Seybu and the town's young doctor on the unique island of Capri.
Reinout Scholten van Aschat,
The Coen Brothers have a catalogue spanning multiple genres and time periods, the vast majority of which considered landmarks in the cinematic landscape of the 1990's and 2000's. With the release of the enjoyable yet troubled 'Hail, Ceaser', however, they hit a speedbump. Whilst this anthology film is definitely a step above their 2016 effort, it shares many of the pitfalls which, for all its credit, remain as noticeable as ever. Being an anthology film, each segment is isolated in it's own narrative, with no overarching plot or recurring characters, granting a certain creative freedom, but also significantly weakening lesser sections which, when not completely immersing the audience, appear more an unnecessary dampener than a valid contribution to this jamboree. The titular section, 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs', opens the picture, presenting a jovial incarnation of the Wild West complete with musical numbers, a metatheatrical performance from the infallible Tim Blake Nelson, and a surrealist edge absent from the remaining episodes. This proves more of a fantastical approach, with creative action sequences and a charming lead. Whilst it features the most Coenesque feel, it serves more as a breezy opener, than the real meat of the piece - a welcome introduction back to the Coen-dictated West. The shortest sequence is the James Franco starring 'Near Algodones', which serves as the action-packed counterpart to the aforementioned fantasy-musical of Buster Scruggs. The comedic moments here are pitch-perfect, with engrossing sequences to boot, however, our time with these characters is all too brief to make it anything more. Following close suit is by far the weakest portion of the film, Liam Neeson's 'Meal Ticket'. Here, the Brothers take an almost non-dialogic approach, instead utilising visual storytelling to comprehensive, oft-comedic, but ultimately repetitive effect. There's little to say of the narrative, featuring recurring Coen quirk, but little more. The final three portions are the strongest additions to this anthology, each gaining a longer runtime and for good reason. The characters appear far more engrossing and the tone more serious, which is no bad thing. 'All Gold Canyon' is gorgeously shot, providing a vastly different colour pallet and an expose on the harsher sides to living in the West, with Tom Waits perhaps proving the best addition to the cast. 'The Gal Who Got Rattled' likely shares the most with Westerns of old, blending character-centred drama with beautifully executed and tense action sequences, and featuring a warm turn from Bill Heck. Finally, 'The Mortal Remains' proves the most ambitious and starkly unique segment, crafting an almost Beckettian atmosphere with infinite metaphorical value and an assortment of expertly acted characters that finely blend a concoction of tension and side-splitting humour. It stands out like a sore thumb from its predecessors, but may be the freshest addition to the anthology, ending the film on a melancholic yet intriguing note. 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs' accurately portrays the Coen's love for the Western genre, allowing them to create a series of vignettes exploring areas of the genre that otherwise remained untouched. Blending a musical, an action film, black comedy, drama, epic and existential think-piece together in an incoherent yet delightful feature, this may not be a whole they are remembered for, but certainly features parts that will remain evergreen in their catalogue. If only the opening three segments were stronger, this could have been a standout. Furthermore, they incite excitement for the Coen's to develop another serious feature, a la 'No Country for Old Men', as it affirms that this is where they excel.
7 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this