Film Review – Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Inside Llewyn Davis

Title – Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Director – Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men)

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

Plot – Down on his luck aspiring folk singer Llewyn Davis (Isaac) has had a tough run of it lately as he try’s to break into the music scene while dealing with a misplaced cat, a possible pregnancy to another man’s woman and a strange road trip to the wintry city of Chicago.

“If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song”

Review by Eddie on 28/05/2014

The Coen Brother’s certainly know how to make depressing oddly entertaining, and continuing on in the vain of Barton Fink, A Serious Man and arguably others of their films, Inside Llewyn Davis is a seriously morbid film that finds much humour in its protagonist’s failings but due to the limited nature of its story it is not hard to see why (despite many bemoaning the fact) come the Oscar nomination process Davis was virtually shut out completely… even though many hailed it one of the years best.

Our depressed figure here is Llewyn Davis, a folk singer so morbid and bereft of lightness that hanging with him for these 100 minutes can at times be as hard as the winter streets of New York. Llewyn is rightfully miffed at his current life situation as his musical partner has recently committed suicide, his new solo record is earning him nothing, he doesn’t have a place to stay and his friends woman Jean (played by Mrs. Marcus Mumford herself Carey Mulligan) is pregnant with a child that is possibly his. Many of these situations that Llewyn finds himself in are typical Coen Brother scenarios and Isaac is a fine leading man in what could well be a career defining performance for him, but it doesn’t make Llewyn any more tolerable as a person and character. With such an overly morbid tone that film is made around its fantastic music and top notch production design.

With dynamo musical producer T Bone Burnett at the helm of music duties and with help from Mumford and Sons frontman Marcus Mumford the music in Davis is such a blast that it elevates the film from what could of been a permanent state of neuroses.  Setting up the tale of Lllewyn around the folk scene of the 60’s was a master-stroke move by the Brothers and is fantastically captured by cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel in what was a rightfully Oscar nominated aspect of the movie. You can feel every breath of cold winters air, every smell of a cafés cigarettes and every strum of a well played guitar. The film exudes atmosphere and would easily rank as one of the Coen’s most well filmed movies which is a grand feat indeed in a catalogue of beautiful movies.

With a great soundtrack, a well performed and casted group of actors and with a great visual eye Davis is a quality made film that is also a tale which could of done with a little more narrative scope. The journey Lllewyn and subsequently we take in the end is nothing more than slight and The Coen’s with all their other fine elements would of been wise to enhance the story that little bit more. Always watchable, often enjoyable yet not always loveable, Inside Llewyn Davis ranks as another fine Coen Brother movie but perhaps one of their less meatier jaunts.

3 and a half couches out of 5

25 responses to “Film Review – Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

    • Hi Livid –
      Cheers again for the interest and your kind words. I know personally that my reviews would be full of misspelt and misused words but in all honesty it might be apart of whatever charms my reviews might have ha without sounding arrogant! With a full time job and no writing degrees it might be the best I can do, but I promise to look harder over my pieces 🙂

      • I love your blog! Screw the haters. It’s always a great read and I’ve never noticed any mistakes.

      • Why thank you Abbi – it’s really nice to know people get a kick to visit us regularly 🙂 Livid is a frequent reader and we appreciate there concern for our articles but we can’t promise professional musings sadly.

  1. you are right, it was the kind of movie you need to take prozac before you push play, but i still think it should have been nominated for best picture because it was much more meaningful and better done than either the wolf of wall street or american hustle.

    • Oh harsh words for poor old Wolf mate but agree wholeheartedly on Hustle that movie was a completely forgettable experience and was very lucky to get the love it got.

    • I know a lot of people in the same boat mate, I love the Coen’s but maybe I was a little to overhyped for this one but just couldn’t buy into Llewyn the character as much as I would of liked.

  2. It has been said that this film was an elaborate joke about Blake Snyder’s book on screenwriting, “Save The Cat”, given that Llewyn Davis spends most of the film carrying a cat around! But I liked this film more than you did. I felt a lot of sympathy for the character of Llewyn Davis – sure, he could be a bit prickly, but he was someone pretty much reaching the end of his musical journey. What’s more, he was good, better than virtually ever other musician we see (except for the very last), and they were all singing these songs about the sea whereas Davis actually was a merchant seaman. So, really, he had a lot to not be cheerful about! The plot was slight, but that didn’t really matter; it was more of a multiple-character study, with the usual Coen Brothers humour thrown in.

    I thought this deserved to be considered for the Oscars – certainly it was a better film than “Her”, though to be honest so were a lot of other films 🙂

    • Haven’t heard of that before David so cheers for sharing mate, the Coen’s certainly are not ones to shy away from tricking their audiences and I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the case here just like Man was a modern day retelling of the Bible book of Job.

  3. Fantastic review guys. I really really enjoyed it, but my enjoyment was likewise based upon the atmosphere and the color tones. The cinematography was excellent, the performances too. The likability factor, though? yeah. . .just a little bit lower!

    • Mate that was fantastic wasn’t it, just so well filmed! It seems every single production element for a Coen film is just thought over. Interesting to see how this film goes in the long run eg; Big Lebowski type cult film.

  4. This film being snubbed by the Academy kinda falls in tune with Llewyn Davis’ life anyway 😀

    Good review, Ed. I enjoyed this film a lot… oh and such remarkable songs, the first thing I did after watching it was finding its soundtrack!

  5. I really enjoyed Llewyn Davis. There was a kind of perverse Schadenfreude in watching him make one terrible decision after another and Ioved that the story stayed true to that to the very end.

    • Must say the ending was fantastic, The Coens certainly know how to end things off with a bang. A Simple Man and this would make a strange double bill.

    • Judging by the comments here it seems as though many agreed with the hype but overall I did find this one strangely slight! Worth checking out though for sure.

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