Inside Llewyn Davis

January 10, 2014 By Mike B
Movie Review

Inside Llewyn Davis Film Review

What Worked?

Llewyn Davis is an asshole, and everybody in the film knows it, including Llewyn. Ethan and Joel Coen string the tale of this struggling folk singer that gets by through practicing the art of couch-surfing. Set in 1961, Llewyn navigates through Greenwich Village, trying to find a break and step off gig limbo. The talented Oscar Isaac takes on the lead role, and he’s joined by a fantastic cast, including Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, and Justin Timberlake.

The Coen brothers remind you that they’re still in fine form with this film. It has a softly drained color that brings out the loneliness of the title character, as well as his story. There are also lingering shots that really allow you to absorb the thoughts of the characters. The Coens weave a tale of the artistic condition, instilling their familiar, unique sense of humor. The script is gloomy, but rewarding in a sense that you walk away from the film feeling oddly inspired. Although it’s based off of pieces of the life of Dave Van Ronk, it’s definitely it’s own story. The theme of a circular struggle is evident and subtly heartbreaking, and the Coen brothers project that perfectly.

Oscar Isaac isn’t a well known name, but this role as Llewyn Davis might be his breakthrough performance. Llewyn is definitely a tragic character, but the tragedy isn’t solely brought about because of his attitude towards life. He’s tragic because of his circumstances, but also because of the fact that his talent isn’t recognized. Llewyn can be a prick, and he’s definitely a bum, but his music is so heartfelt because of his experiences. Isaac has a voice with soul and strain, and we can feel the songs as he sings them. Llewyn¬†trys to allow people to feel his pain either through his music or his sarcasm. Isaac makes it so that Llewyn is a loser, but he’s a loser to admire. In a sense, it’s almost like he’s a stepping stone for legends like Bob Dylan.

The rest of the cast is solid, including Carey Mulligan as Jean, a fellow folk singer that Llewyn impregnates, despite being friends with Jim, Jean’s boyfriend. Mulligan portrays Jean as a lively person that dreams of a normal life, yet her obstacle from getting there is her habit of helping Llewyn. John Goodman also shows up as Roland Turner, a jazz-musician and druggie, that’s hilarious in his style and storytelling.

Inside Llewyn Davis gives us exactly what the title says: a look inside the life of a talented artist. The film allows us to know that there is beauty in tragedy, and that just because talent isn’t recognized doesn’t mean it’s not there. It also suggests that we live our life in a loop, and the only way to break out of it is to change ourselves.

Potential Drawbacks:

If you’re familiar with the Coen brothers’ films, then you’ll know what you’re getting into. If you’re not, this might not be the best movie to watch. Just like with the rest of the films by the Coen brothers, this has a unique sense of humor that might not be too appealing to some.

The film isn’t done in a typical biopic style, meaning that it doesn’t end in a neat way. There’s no closure for the character because that’s not the point of the film. The style in which the film is set up can also be too unorthodox for some viewers.

Film Recommendations:

I’m Not There

Immortal Beloved

A Serious Man 

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