Follow a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles -- some of them of his own making.Written by
After the cat escapes the Gorfeins' home, Llewyn gets in the elevator and the print on the wall is taken from a famous photo of tragic jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden and his band in New Orleans. See more »
Ewan MacColl's The Shoals of Herring was composed for and first broadcasted in a BBC 'Radio Ballad' in August 1960. Since the film is set in 1961, Llewyn Davis could not have recorded this as an eight year old. See more »
There is a creative sadness in here, but it is heavily masked in sporadic plotting, hidden meaning and a dreary tone
Like almost everyone who loved or hated this film, I do generally like the Coen brothers and am not against having to do work to enjoy and appreciate a film. This is an important thing to say because Inside Llewyn Davis is certainly not a film to come to as a casual viewer just looking to kill a few hours – not as a snobby thing of "you'll not appreciate it" but just a reality that the film does almost nothing to help the viewer. The plot involves struggling folk musician Llewyn Davis in the Greenwich Village scene of the early 1960s; he is not particularly commercial, is irresponsible, downbeat and cannot look after others or even the cat belonging to others. We follow him over the course of a week which will change his life and see the world around him change too.
I really did want to like this film because at times there is a certain beauty to it in the pained reality of its lead character, his situation and his gradual realization of where his life is and where it is going. Unfortunately this is generally spread very thin and instead of having a structure that supports this, we instead get an episodic approach that makes the "week" feel like months, sees characters just come and go whether we have an interest in them or not and generally doesn't allow you to do more than grasp at metaphors which drift by – usually resulting in the people who love the film the most being those who brought a lot of their own selves to the table, leaving us who look to the film to at least help, feeling left out in the cold and even a little bored.
The music is beautiful when it comes and the cinematography is excellent as it captures and shapes the feel of the film and the character – it is bleak to look at for sure, but it is suitable and effective for what the film is. The same could be said of Isaac's performance because it is what the film needs him to do but the downside is that it isn't really what the viewer needs him to do. His personal journey (physical and emotional) is made harder b the coldness of his character – there is really not much to grab hold of here and he is generally difficult. As often is the case with the Coens, we have characters drifting though the story usually in a colorful fashion – the times it has worked in other films has been frequent but here I didn't think it did at all, with nobody seeming to add much. As writers of the material and directors of their cast the "blame" (depending on your view) belongs with the Coens as they have made this film very difficult to get into.
Full of supposed metaphors and with a sadness which is put in the distance look of its title character rather than in his heart or in the audience's line of sight, the film drifts along with a general sense of sadness and change which always interested me but just seemed deliberately out of reach and distant. I'm sure if you "get it" then it is a film to adore, but for me it just didn't work at all.
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