We learn he is still grieving from the suicide of his musical partner as sung by Marcus Mumford , and that he bounces from sofa to sofa amongst acquaintances and family members. See, Llewyn is not a very likable guy. Oh, and a cat that travels with Llewyn - at least until he can get him or her back to the owner. It's possibly due to the fact that the movie and his character are not readily accessible to the average movie goer. Like all of the greatest films of Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis is many things at once: visually and verbally virtuosic, tonally complex, beautifully constructed, peopled with larger-than-life characters, and ultimately magical.
Hold on tight, because it is one experience that will remain with you long after the credits are through. We're forced to watch this guy's face for an hour or so without a clue to his demons; he's just a jerk, a driven jerk but a jerk nonetheless. There is a nobility in pursuing your dreams when such dreams consist of the pursuit of an art form. Their work is inspired by life's obstacles and tough luck, even if brought on by a character's own poor judgment. The movie is only somewhat linear, with closing scenes mirroring opening scenes, and it is told entirely from Llewyn's point of view.
Why Isaac's performance is not garnering more Oscar chat is beyond my understanding. But no matter how many times people fail you, one should never fail, before one's self. Without a political or sexual agenda it got you chicks it did flounder, but it needed an audience for shifting values and social awareness. It features a humanistic, heartfelt performance by Oscar Isaac as the titular folk singer, arresting cinematography, and a sharp, tight-fisted script by the Coen brothers, who also directed. It's an experience in which you will feel fear, joy, hate, hope, sorrow and contempt all within an hour and 45 minutes that feels more like 15 minutes. We feel his pain, but fail to understand the lack of caring he often displays towards others. Llewyn is a self-tortured soul, but unlike caricatures of wandering folkies, he is at his center a realist, albeit a prideful one.
A genius before his time? Inside Llewyn Davis is an intimate, well-executed, and honest slice of life. One's suffering couldn't just be for one's art, but had to have a social dimension that this guy can't see. The movie does a terrific job of avoiding the usual cliches, such as a down-on-his-luck musician catching a lucky break, or a bitter man having a quick change of heart. They do not give you that foothold, and for that reason, I was pretty ready for this movie to end when it did. It's amazing how dazzled one can be by so very little these days.
The glorious score of folk standards was loving curated and executive produced by T. Llewyn is nothing if not complex. Instead, brace yourself for the trials of a talented musician who believes the music should be enough. So while the songs are real and the characters are often inspired or based upon real artists of the time, Llewyn's story is pure Coen fiction. Their cinematography and over all character driven story telling shines when their lead characters hit the road. What dominates is power, balanced by music, money and pride, yet this movie is better served as a reminder that life is an experience, and individualistic. Solo singers, duos and trios are playing the Gaslight and cutting and releasing records.
The titular Llewyn Davis played by Oscar Isaac is introduced to us onstage at the Gaslight singing a beautiful folk song. The folk songs song by Lleywn serve as calming beautiful interludes and as stark contrasts to the plot driven by a character who is simply put, a terrible human being stuck in an extremely frustrating, self-made vacuum of an existence. And the movie, like Llewyn's own life, appears to have no point - except to illustrate just how pointless Llewyn is making his life, through his stubborn marriage to his craft and a desire to stay uprooted Greetings again from the darkness. Murray Abraham, and - unforgettably - John Goodman as a foul-mouthed, bombastic jazz musician. Are they saying that even the ugliness of Llewyn's personality can produce something as beautiful as music, or are they saying that we get tricked by beautiful music into thinking that the artist must also be pure? When Llewyn is really on, you can feel his pain leap right off the screen into your brain; when he appears to be going through the motions and not singing from his heart, you can feel the lack of depth that his intended audience also feels.
As always, the Coens provide us a constant flow of interesting and oddball characters. The in- and-out mythic references are unfocused and a game for undergraduates. Perfectly casted, perfectly scripted, perfectly filmed; perfectly entertaining. In addition to Goodman's jazz hipster, we get Garrett Hedlund as an ultra cool til he's not valet, Adam Driver as a cowboy folk singer, Troy Nelson as a virtuous Army folk singer based on Tom Paxton , and Llewyn's Upper East side cat owners, his spunky sister, and best of all F Murray Abraham as Bud Grossman, the owner of Chicago's Gate of Horn club. He's your 50's college roommate who cooks on a hot plate and sings about historic heroic starvations. We connect with Lleywn's anger and struggles, as if we too are burdened by his failures and challenges.
Isaac himself performs Llewyn's songs, with a sweet, vulnerable voice that offers a touch of soul to Llewyn's otherwise-bleak surroundings. When the Coens go flat it's not even E flat. He captures that crisis of self that's necessary for an artist whose talent and passion is just out of step with societal changes. This is admittedly a criticism, but more an observation. Sorry, but the early folk scene wasn't this creepy and Bob Dylan didn't rescue it from oblivion or creepiness.
But amongst the bad, there are moments of cheer, and laughter and peace reminding us that good still exists. During his travels and travails, Llewyn encounters people ranging from the genuine his singing friends Jim and Jean, played by Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan to the absurd a rotund, blustery John Goodman. Isaac is just flat-out terrific. There's a certain clown show aspect to their films, which creates their charm and fun but little else. Idealistic young folk singer Llewyn Davis Oscar Isaac struggles to make a name for himself in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960s in this fictional period drama from Joel and Ethan Coen. I'll lead with the greatness. Their characters struggle with their messy quirky lives but we see them as curiosities rather than representatives of anything important.