Sunday, December 22

Inside Llewyn Davis Review

Inside Llewyn Davis
Dir: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, and John Goodman

The Coen Brother’s have the uncanny ability of crafting films about small moments in life, without the need for resolution or extraneous explanation. “Inside Llewyn Davis” is a story on the surface about music but beneath about the trappings of success and the pain of regret. Told with precision and an expertise almost expected from the Coen Brother’s, the emerging Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960’s is seen through the eyes of a struggling musician named Llewyn. His ambitions in life have been met with less than expected results and in this moment, pivotal or otherwise, the Coen’s build a sublime story.

To call Llewyn Davis’ (Oscar Isaac) musical ambitions a disappointment would only be half the story. His personal life seems prime with material for his folk narratives as he sponges off friends for a couch to lay his head. Llewyn’s life gets only further complicated by the pregnancy of his friend Jean (Carey Mulligan), a fellow folksinger who Llewyn has a history with. Llewyn, waiting for opportunity to fall in his lap, wanders from one gig to another carrying the baggage of his poor decisions along with his guitar case.

The world, however unrealistic it may seem, is always a ruthless place filled with cruel people in the Coen Brother’s work. The quality of the characters in their films is reflected with a hapless characteristic; lonely hero’s forced to embody heroic ideals. Llewyn is a difficult man, stuck in a self-induced rut passively waiting for life to meet his expectations. Though, if his life’s rewards were measured by his good deeds he shouldn’t be expecting much. He impregnates his friend’s wife, yells at the supportive couple that sheltered him, and heckles other artists during their performances. Moments that offer Llewyn prospect for redemption pass by without acknowledgement, they are mere regretful choices. Llewyn may be a jerk but he is also a talented artist, truth worn into every verse of his songs and keen cautionary insight offered for those listening. People who hear him sing admire him, his music making them overlook his many faults. The musical performances by Oscar Isaac are where the character of Llewyn comes to life. The lyrics displaying the emotions he shelters so deeply.

The narrative, purposeful with its’ meticulous pace and careful character development, moves along somewhat aimlessly amidst the wonderful rendering of icy Manhattan in the 60’s.  Set in the harsh of winter the cold seems a reflection of the unsympathetic world that Llewyn has helped in creating. Jean, a wonderful Carey Mulligan, has nothing but disdainful comments for Llewyn. Though, even through the stinging remarks, Jean cared for Llewyn and the man he once was, a person the audience is never introduced too.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” is a film about success and regret and the faults and favors that go along with it. The Coen’s continue to fascinate with this compelling and comedic story that is only further accommodated by the amusingly complex characters of Llewyn Davis.

Monte’s Rating
4.25 out of 5.00

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