The Coen brothers are arguably some of the best filmmakers of our generation. They’re responsible for a number of modern classics, and they’ve just created another masterpiece with Inside Llewyn Davis. Funny, dark, flawlessly acted and painfully poignant, it’s easily one of 2013's finest films.
Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a struggling folk singer living in 1961 New York. He spends his days wandering the streets, lugging most of his stuff around, looking for a couch to crash on for the night. Llewyn used to be part of a duo, until his partner threw himself off the George Washington Bridge. Inside Llewyn Davis portrays the harsh reality that most musicians face, especially when they’re not willing to compromise their artistic integrity for anyone or anything. It’s also the story of a man who’s haunted by the memory of what was, a memory that follows him everywhere.
I absolutely adored this film, and for a number of reasons. For one, Oscar Isaac is bloody brilliant as Llewyn, and although the character isn’t necessarily the most likable person in the world, I was able to very strongly relate to his honesty and cynicism. He’s a selfish guy who’s entirely too focused on himself, which doesn’t allow him to see farther than the present. He’s bound to keep making the same mistakes, but he just can’t see far enough to grasp that. Oscar Isaac also plays guitar and sings live for the cameras, and he’s an incredibly talented musician (I just downloaded a few songs off the soundtrack).
The entire cast does a fantastic job; Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Max Casella, and Adam Driver (just to name a few) are all great. I will say that I still don’t buy Justin Timberlake as a serious actor, so I found his brief performance to be a tiny bit distracting. But again, it’s all about Oscar Isaac, and he’s flawless.
This is a pretty grim film, and while it can be extremely funny, the humor is dark and dry. Whenever you think something good is going to happen, Llewyn’s personality gets in the way and completely mucks it up. You may not get emotional given that Llewyn is kind of an asshole, but I couldn’t help but feel for him, and I saw a lot of myself in him, which was definitely scary. It’s also refreshing to see a film that’s this honest about the reality of show business and how difficult it really is to make it. The world is full of struggling artists, and the film touches on that sense of loss and hopelessness in ways that I haven’t really seen yet on screen.
Inside Llewyn Davis is the Coen Brothers doing what they do best; creating beautiful cinema. I was completely transported, and I have a feeling you will be too. You shouldn’t miss this.
Numerical Score: 9.5/10
Originally Published on A Geek's Blog
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