The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (8)
| Top Critics (3)
| Fresh (8)
| Rotten (0)
Sometimes, a shot of a bloodied corpse on a donkey or an exploding hog says everything there is to say about the horror, the horror.
Arbeláez indulges in occasional twinges of Hollywood "emphasis," but mostly the film glides on its matter-of-fact textures, particularly the barbed but concrete rapport between sparky Manuel (Hernán Mauricio Ocampo) and put-upon Julian (Nolberto Sánchez).
Shot almost entirely from the children's perspective, Arbeláez tackles universal themes of conflict and its impact on ordinary people without getting mired in specific politics.
Powerful portrait of how civil war transforms the lives of children in a Colombian farm community from a carefree existence to one of fear and growing up too fast.
The simple and stark contrast between playful children in a rustic soccer field and the tension over their modern risk is heart-pounding and breath-stopping.
The Colombian/Panamanian co-production is a measured yet potent debut for the filmmaker, who exhibits a sublime command of his largely-inexperienced young cast and painter's eye for the lush landscapes they inhabit.
Arbeláe doesn't let anger cloud his humanity though, and he never sacrifices the ambiguity of his images to score points.
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