You can always count on the Coen brothers to make damn good movies, that are also singular and unique to them. ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ just might be their most relatable movie yet, at least for me. As a broke musician, there are many times I laughed during the movie out of sheer familiarity with his experiences. The movie also happens to be very funny, even though things stack up against Llewyn more and more as the movie progresses. Inside Llewyn Davis is a sad, funny, and overall beautiful love song to the folk music scene of New York in the 1960’s, and one of the Coen brothers best movies yet.
The movie begins somewhere near the end of it’s story, as struggling, directionless Llewyn Davis is playing a song at a bar in New York. Walking outside, a man attacks him in the alleyway, calling him an asshole, and leaving him there. This is a perfect set up for the character of Llewyn, because this is, in spirit, what will happen to him nonstop throughout the movie. He is told to leave his two older friends apartment that he was crashing at, and goes to his old girlfriend Jean’s (Carey Mulligan) house, now with her new boyfriend (Justin Timberlake). She tells Llewyn that she’s pregnant with his baby, and wants an abortion, so now he has to raise money for it. The movie follows him as he does session guitar work with Timberlake, his journey to Chicago with Roland Turner (played incredibly by John Goodman) and his trip home to see his sick father. If the plot seems kind of aimless, that’s because it is; just like Llewyn.
There are so many great parts to this movie that all add up to the beautiful end result, but the music is truly what stands out. I never really got into folk music, but the original music made for Llewyn Davis is all wonderful. With help from T-Bone Burnett and Marcus Mumford, it’s no wonder they were able to put such great music together. In fact, the Coen brothers always have some of the best music of any movie in theirs. O’ Brother where art thou had a great soundtrack as well, and this movie seems like a descendant of sorts from that film.
Other pieces of the movie that stick with me, are the acting and the cinematography. Like, I said before, John Goodman really steals his scenes for the short time that he’s in the movie, but his sarcastic, cynical jazz musician is hysterical. It would also be a crime not to mention how great Oscar Isaac is as well. Even when he does something shitty, the guy is just so likeable and charismatic that you never stop being on his side. The landscape of 1960’s New York and Chicago is also beautifully and artistically captured by cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel. While the Coen’s usually have the amazing Richard Deakins, Delbonnel makes a strong case for becoming their new go-to cinematographer.
That’s going to do it for Inside Llewyn Davis, I hope you enjoyed the read. I think you’ll like this one if you’re a fan of the Coen’s in general, the 1960’s, or just good music. If I’m being honest, the movie does really start to lose steam near the end, so I can’t say I really loved the third act stuff, but the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Actually now that I think about it, there are quite a few Coen brothers movies that drag near the end. Anyway, that’s gonna cap my rant on Inside Llewyn Davis, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more updates!