Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Inside Llewyn Davis – 2013

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The next instalment in the fantastic Coen Bros. collection is a sad story of the life and times of Llewyn Davis; a poor, pathetic, pretentious and pessimistic folk singer from the 1960’s.

Set in Greenwich Village, New York, the tale of Llewyn’s up and down life and career is a gloomy, depressing and dull representation of the life of a folk singer. The shallow setting, the un-stimulating characters, the unsaturated look of the city, the monotonous blue filter over each shots and the “asshole” Llewyn himself all make for a pretty rough and melancholy viewing experience; which is exactly why it’s fantastic.

Many stories of up and coming musicians portray the typical ‘rags to riches’ scenario, and it gets boring after a while.

Initially unimpressed by this latest Coen Bros. piece, I have since seen the light and have come to appreciate the films gritty and unashamedly realistic portrayal of the life of a reasonably talented musician trying to catch a break.

 

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The slow paced nature of the film is full of drama both on and off stage for Llewyn. His uninspiring life is mixed with limited funds, uninterested artist managers and and unplanned pregnancy with an ex-girlfriend to top it all off.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” is a smart, witty and raw cultural depiction of early 60’s life in folk music that is both dramatical, depressing and funny.

Oscar Isaac is incredible as Llewyn Davis; his voice on the amazingly original soundtrack is superb. His lack of expression, his sad sack look, his softened mannerisms and overall dampened presence is brilliant to watch.

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On the other hand, the supporting cast doesn’t offer too much, with Justin Timberlake’s Jim, lasting a mere 5 minutes on screen, Carey Mulligan’s Jean (mother of Llewyn’s unborn child) is quite interesting, but lacks finesse overall, while John Goodman’s Roland Turner is quite humorous, delivering the funny one-liners, but ultimately, his screen time is waisted as well.

Basically, Llewyn Davis dominates the film, and that’s not a bad thing at all. His journey is an interesting one, but above all it’s an honest one.

The strongest point by far is the films soundtrack; a fantastic collection of glorious folk songs, performed perfectly on-screen by Oscar Isaac and some of the supporting cast.

Film Spirit Awards Nominations

The opening song “Hang Me” is a tune that resonates with the audience whilst the quirky and obscure “Please Mr. Kennedy” is an upbeat, funny and unique tune that demands a second and third listen.

It’s nothing like “Burn After Reading” or “The Big Lebowski”, which are true Coen Bros. classics exhibited in the typical chaotic comedic style we’ve come to associate with the pair, it’s more like “No Country For Old Men” in that it is a film that is somewhat unexpected from a director/directors with a certain style, which again is not a bad thing.

It’s a commendable feet with an extraordinary protagonist, a brilliant soundtrack and heightened sense of realism. Lacking in areas like the supporting cast and certain plot-holes, “Inside Llewyn Davis” is definitely worth watching, yet it’s not a Coen Bros. classic.

3.5/5

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