I have had a love/hate relationship with New York City my entire life, but one of the reasons I completely love it is because films usually screen earlier in NYC than they do anywhere else. Which means I saw the Coen Brothers new film Inside Llewyn Davis on Saturday instead of having to wait a few weeks like I would have if I was home.
Also, I feel like it is important to note how I saw the film because that plays a major role. The theater I was in had a balcony which I decided to sit in and which was empty except for maybe 4 other people. It was a very surreal experience because I could hear the people laughing below me, but I felt separated from them, as if they were laughing in another room and I just looked in to see what was going on. Also also, the bar preventing people from falling off the balcony (I guess? I don’t know it was low) cut off a tiny piece of the bottom of the screen so I had to sit on my feet to see over it which made for slightly uncomfortable viewing.
No matter. Inside Llewyn Davis is all Coen Brothers and I say that with the highest regard. Their films have such a deliberate and distinctive style. I spent much of the film just appreciating the transitions, which is something I honestly don’t notice much in films unless they really stand out. I also love the way the Coens use setting to really define and confine their characters. Whether he was in Jean and Jim’s claustrophobic hallway or the unforgiving snowy streets of New York/Chicago pretty much everything in Llewyn’s life was against him- and it showed.
I honestly expected more from the story of Inside Llewyn Davis, but I wasn’t unhappy even though (*Mini spoiler*) nothing actually happens throughout the entire film. It felt real. Yes, some people are complaining because they spent $10 to see a film about nothing, but isn’t that life? Life isn’t exciting all the time-bad things happen, you can’t catch a break, every day feels the same. That’s the point. Llewyn’s life is just one cyclical mess of disappointment, couch hopping, and poor decisions. Let’s just say besides the couch hopping thing Llew and I have a lot in common. (*End of mini spoiler*) Plus, there was a moment near the very end, if you’ve seen it you know what I’m talking about, where something just flipped and I thought, “Wow, that was cool.”
Oscar Isaac plays Llewyn with such pathos. You just feel for him. This guy may be a jerk, but man does he need a break. And then maybe he’d be less of a jerk. His singing voice is angelic and the last song “Fare thee Well (Dink’s Song)” I felt in my very soul. I can’t wait to get my hands on the soundtrack (I’ve already put in my request with Santa.)
While watching I was torn about the fact that I listened to the soundtrack for about 3 day straight when NPR had it streaming. I liked the fact that I knew all the words and the songs felt like old friends, but I felt like it took something away from the experience. I would have liked to hear these amazing musical numbers in theater quality sound for the first time because the music is what really made the film. I’m a total sucker for folk music. Every song is better than the next and honestly I’ve been trying to pick a favorite and I don’t think I can. All I can say is that Marcus Mumford and Carey Mulligan need to release a song together STAT.
Besides her darling singing voice, Carey also really impressed me with her acting ability. Last I saw her she was rocking a gorgeous bob and hoping her daughter would be a beautiful little fool. This time she wasn’t cool with a voice like money, but rough and worn down by life. You could just see it in her eyes, in the way she carried herself, in her very being. The only thing I found distracting were her bangs which changed positions multiple times, especially in the scene where she and Llewyn are in the cafe. The rest of the cast was great as well, the only complaint I have is that I wish there was more Justin. And I still really just don’t understand the person that is Adam Driver.
All in all I would say see Inside Llewyn Davis if you’re a Coen Brothers or folk music fan or just a person who likes pretty movies where no one dies and nothing gets blown up. (AKA if you’re not my dad.)
- One of my friends was an extra in the film! Check him out in the scene when Llewyn is heckling the woman in the bar. He’s the one in the table farthest in the back closest to Oscar Isaac (lucky duck).
- Still think Fargo is my favorite Coen Brothers film followed closely by Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
- All the awards to the cat! (*Mini spoiler*) I’m still mad at Llew for leaving him in car. (*End of mini spoiler*)