Review oscar-isaac-inside-llewyn-davis

Published on January 30th, 2014 | by Allan Brown

6

Inside Llewyn Davis Review

 

Movie Review: Inside Llewyn Davis (2014)inside-lleweyn-davis-film-poster-movie-review-world

Rating: 15

Running Time: 104 mins

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Cast: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, F. Murray Abraham, Garrett Hedlund

Plot: A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.

 

 

 

Movie Review World

Writer/Directors Joel and Ethan Coen have captivated audiences over the years with their quirky, dark comedies that always offer stimulating characters and exhilarating dialogue. Despite their somewhat cult following and refusal to be anything other than faithful to their own vision, the Coen brothers have gone on to great success.
justin-timberlake-and-oscar-isaac-studio-folk-song-in-the-coens-film-inside-llewyn-davisFrom a post modern Western in No Country For Old Men to a 1960s character drama about a Jewish man struggling with life’s biggest questions, remains a testament of their refusal to be restrained and shackled by the mainstream market, and to simply follow what feels natural to them. This time the Coen’s choose to go low-key with a musical drama from their original screenplay entitled, Inside Llewyn Davis.

Greenwich Village played the backdrop and cultural dwelling for many rising musicians in 1960s New York, and it is here in the Gaslight Café that we are first introduced to our main protagonist, Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac). He is a gifted yet struggling folk singer, who not only must come to terms with the recent suicide of his musical partner Mike, but also accept and adapt in becoming a solo artist. However, with his recent solo album not selling and he without money, Llewyn is forced to depend on the generosity of friends, frenemies and associates alike, for a place to lay his head. Despite his dream, his ambition and his musical talent, the film follows Llewyn over the course of a week, a week of physical and emotional battering, a carnival of failures, as he fights an uphill struggle to exist.

Bruno Delbonnels atmospheric cinematography that reeks of nostalgia, effortlessly transporting you back to 1960s New York

Once again the Coen brothers show their ability to balance exquisite visuals and unconventional characters with some wonderful dark-comedy, and despite the films bleak tone and theme, the Coen’s never allow it to consume the narrative.

As well as the directing duo’s exquisite attention to detail and Bruno Delbonnels atmospheric cinematography that reeks of nostalgia, effortlessly transporting you back to 1960s New York, it must be highlighted that Inside Llewyn Davis is as much a visual treat as it is a musical triumph. Each melodic performance from the cast of actors (which was recorded live on-set) is simply magnificent and breathes life into each scene, a stark contrast to the films darker shades.

oscar-issac-as-llewyn-davis-smoking-inside-llewyn-davis-movie-review-worldIt is Oscar Isaac that steals the show with a wondrous breakthrough performance as our lead Llewyn Davis. Everything from his moody, downbeat demeanour that is pitch perfect to his emotionally expressive and haunting acoustic sets, that will likely send a chill down your spine.

Equally great is the talented Carey Mulligan who plays the estranged Jean. A friend of sorts to Llewyn and a onetime fling, whos own self loathing manifests itself as a constant string of verbal insults and putdowns toward our lead. The rest of the cast although in smaller roles come from Justin Timberlake, F. Murray Abraham, John Goodman and Garrett Hedlund all of whom enrich the screen anytime they are present.

The films symbolises Llewyn’s journey in many fun visual nods and thought provoking analogies, in particular with the neighbour’s cat Ulysses (The name of a Greek King who fought in the Trojan War to then be faced with a barrage of difficult obstacles on journey home).

However, despite its excellence in acting, directing, writing and cinematography, Inside Llewyn Davis’ downbeat tone and unconventional storyline, will likely leave many unsatisfied and unfulfilled. It can be said the film comes and goes without leaving much of an impact but despite its low-key and restrained style, there is much to adore here. And while the Coen’s will always avoid those wholesome all American happy endings, it can be said they will always tell it their way, without apology.

Inside Llewyn Davis Review Allan Brown

Verdict

Summary: Inside Llewyn Davis will unlikely break box-office records this January, but despite its lack of mainstream appeal the Coen brothers have created a film that is truly in sync with every element of its make-up. From its melancholic visuals and tone to its moody characters and dialogue, rarely has there been such a wonderfully complementary and fully harmonised cinematic experience.

4


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About the Author

Despite my 9-5 being consumed by the daily duties of an Electrician, Movie Review World serves as a platform for me to share my thoughts, explorations and reflections on one of my biggest passions, film.



6 Responses to Inside Llewyn Davis Review

  1. Mark Walker says:

    Top write-up Allan. I loved this movie but I’m still processing it and haven’t even attempted a review. I’ll wait till I see it again before that endeavour. Fantastic film, though.

    • Allan Brown says:

      Thanks Mark. Part of wishes I had done the same. Its a film that I find myself thinking more and more about. I found it so intoxicating. Another brilliantly realised screenplay from the Coen’s.

  2. I completely agree with you, this film was utterly beautiful and I loved it so much. I wish films like this would get more recognition for their brilliance and it’s a shame Oscar Isaac hasn’t been nominated for major awards considering how great he is in this role.

    • Allan Brown says:

      Yes I to was surprised by Oscar Isaac not receiving a nomination for his performance, scandalous really but then it has been an amazing year for film. I think its restrained and downbeat tone will likely put off many casual cinema goers but for me it was truly one of most intoxicating and tonally harmonized films Ive seen in a long while. Every element of the film complemented each other and I cant wait to see it again. Thanks for stopping by Caitlin

  3. jjames36 says:

    Great review. And agreed. Isaac is great. This movie is great. One of the Coens best.

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