Although often melancholy and slow, Inside Llewyn Davis is a wonderful representation of the Coen Brothers still at their best. It has elements of humor and sadness blended in a way that only they could do. It’s an oddly structured film at times, but in order to fully enjoy it you have to trust the ending will satisfy and make the journey worthwhile. The main point of the film is to show a single week in the life of a struggling folk singer as he makes his way through Greenwich Village in 1961. Many of the scenes seem to be shrouded in shadow, almost as if to further convey this character’s hopelessness in the middle of winter.
He means nothing but the best, but often his intentions are looked over when he inevitably screws up. He makes his way from estranged friend’s house to estranged friend’s house, inconveniencing them every step of the way. Simply not wanting him to freeze to death and have that on their conscience seems to be the main catalyst for letting him sleep on their couches. As he searches for the next place to sleep he also keeps up his futile attempts of making it as a folk singer. No one is listening to him and it’s beginning to take its toll on his soul and most definitely his wallet. In nearly every aspect of this week we spend with Llewyn, something sets him back from going anywhere. From beginning to end, he journeys to other states in the cold winter season and ends up right where he started, nowhere. This isn’t meant to have a cathartic ending to leave everyone in high spirits, this is a Coen Brothers’ film; often times they aren’t concerned with ending it with a nice little bow. They present it with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude and simply hope you felt something along the way.
Oscar Isaac plays the lead and he does a very contained but brilliant performance of a simple man who is down on his luck as of late. He seems sad and it is sometimes heartbreaking to watch. He just wants his chance and it never happens. Along his small journey he meets some very eccentric characters, two of which are played interestingly by John Goodman and Garrett Hedlund. Their screen time is brief, but in my opinion Llewyn’s time spent with them is the best part of the film aside from when Oscar Isaac picks up his guitar.
I can’t finish talking about this without mentioning the beautiful soundtrack filled with folk songs to both warm the heart and break it. My personal favorite song in the film is the song Llewyn plays for his father; at this point in Llewyn’s life he is forced into other means to make any kind of money and the particular job he has taken will send him away for quite some time. He knows this might be his last moments with his father which is why he sings him the song, and it’s a very poignant and delightful scene. When the film ends it just ends. There is no finish line here; it’s simply a small window into this man’s life. It’s an ideal film to study characters and simply get lost in the music and uniqueness of it all for a hundred minutes or so. Many might find this boring, but if you can find the simplicity of it and can accept it, you will love this. It is Coen filmdom at its finest and I thoroughly enjoyed Inside Llewyn Davis.
Rated R For: language including some sexual references
Run Time: 104 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Oscar Isaac, John Goodman, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Garrett Hedlund
Directed By: Joel & Ethan Coen
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 4.5/ Visuals: 3
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls