A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. (IMDB
Writers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake
Run time/Rating: 104 Minutes/ R
Popcorn Score: Large Popcorn
This review contains subtle story spoilers*
I believe that Inside Llewyn Davis is yet another Cohen Brothers masterpiece. There is a tremendous look to the film placing you in the drabby 1960’s Greenwich Village New York neighborhood where many struggling folk artists made their home. It is complete with such subtlety impressive shots, cinematography and directorial choices. And it is clearly incredible writing, that although spans the time of a week, several states and the lives of many characters, literally from the first scene to the last goes nowhere, but still remaining incredibly intriguing and engaging throughout.
Similar to how you will feel by the end of the film (which of course is a testament to the Cohen Brother filmmaking) the hero of the story Llewyn is sad. His life as a Greenwich Village musician changed drastically a short time before we meet him after the suicide of his former mucis partner. Although it is reasonable to suspect that things were not great in the duo’s lives before this happened, it certainly couldn’t have helped Davis’ outlook, and all we are given is that Llewyn isn’t very happy.
Of course most of his problems are brought on by himself. He is incredibly guarded and although relies on others now more than ever, he still continues to strike out against them, reject them, and make it more and more easy for them to dislike him. He is stuck with the mentality that saving money and being able to support oneself takes away from the genuineness of being an artist and in turn is spending 1-2 nights at a time on the couches of whoever will have him. More often than not that couch is owned by his friends, fellow musicians Jim and Jean who are married and make up the rising folk band – Jim and Jean. (Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan) Adding to his problems, but solidifying the fact that he is a cancer to himself and those around him, he is one of the two possible fathers of Jeans future baby.
After an explosion during a dinner party at one of his enablers’ home, he catches a ride to Chicago with an old musician and his valet. This period of the film which introduces John Goodman shows a glimpse into the future of a struggling musician, albeit a much unhealthier and disgusting one, and perhaps one with even more revolting of a personality. This voyage is a “hail marry” of an effort for the folk singer which is brought on by as much of a desire to make it, as it is by the shortage of other opportunities. His destination is to connect with a folk music manager who owns a club in the city. He is able to meet the man, played by Homeland’s F. Murray Abraham, and after presenting his solo album titled “Inside Llewyn Davis” he is granted a one song on the spot audition. While pouring his insides out throughout the totality of a heartfelt song, the brilliant filmmaking brothers leave you hanging and waiting for a response.
As I mentioned, the story finishes where it began. Llewyn Davis back in his neighborhood with the familiar yet not always friendly faces and locations. Llewyn’s life will go on however it has without out any indication of change.