With a very limited cinema release, The Coen Brothers’ latest will be much more widely seen on Netflix where it is already available.
Set in the old west, it is an anthology tale comprising of six separate stories. With spectacular photography of the landscapes by Bruno Delbonnel, this is a film that deserves to be seen on the big screen rather than on the iPad I saw it on.
It starts-off really well in a mostly humorous vein as Tim Blake Nelson’s singing-cowboy quips his way through his portion of the film. It many ways it remains the most memorable of the stories with the next two segments – about a bank robber and an impresario touring with his act, a man with no arms or legs feel a little too slight. Much better is the story of a lone prospector finding gold, largely thanks to a terrific performance from Tom Waits.
The fifth part is the longest and most substantial. A young woman’s brother dies on a wagon train. After getting engaged to a man on the trip, she finds herself in peril when Indians attack. This section is pretty brutal, bringing home the harsh realities of life at the time. Zoe Kazan is very good. The final segment brings a little light relief, even it does involve transporting a corpse on a stagecoach. With a eclectic mix of passengers spinning yarns, It reminded me of the opening act of The Hateful Eight.
I have yet to see an anthology film that doesn’t suffer with the problem of having some stories that are better than others, and this is no exception. It starts and ends strongly but some of the stories in between are a little disappointing. It might have worked better with a single narrative interweaving stories as sub plots where their lack of substance would not have been so obvious. However, with the Coen’s was with dialogue, the movie doesn’t ever drag.
Rating: 8 out of 10