Inside Llewyn Davis review

Ethan Coen
Joel Coen
Oscar Isaac
Carey Mulligan
Justin Timberlake
John Goodman
Rated: R

I can’t say that I’m the biggest folk music fan out there, but I wouldn’t mind having the soundtrack to this flick.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” is a film that explores the title character during a week of his life. Davis is a young folk singer living in New York City in the early 1960s and survives by playing at gigs and staying at the homes of his friends. At the same time, he continues to try and get his solo album produced and on shelves to make a living.

Throughout the film, Davis’ life is on full display. On top of his work in the music industry, the movie also examines his relationships, friendships, people he relies on and the overall circular life that he lives.

What the Coen brothers do very well with the movie is not just take a look inside Llewyn Davis’ life, but take a look inside the lives of most young artists, too. The story of a man trying to make something of himself through his art, and fully believing in that art is relatable and endearing and in typical Coen brothers fashion, the film pulls no punches.

Davis has had to deal with multiple hardships as the movie shows clearly and that has made him a colder, more cynical person because of it, and that adds to the realism and allows one to better understand that character.

What also helps the film is the circular way that Davis lives his life, always in a sort of cycle. This part of the movie really comes into play at both the beginning and the end and it shows the growth of the lead character.

Oscar Isaac will more than likely be offered more starring roles after this because he is fantastic as the main character. As Davis is beaten down in the movie by the rigors of life, we see the plight and weight of things on his mind through both Isaac’s expressions and delivery of the dialogue.

Despite being a major cynic and at times even a jerk, Isaac plays the character in a way that makes Davis not only an interesting person but someone that an audience can actually care about.

The supporting cast is very strong in the film, too. Carey Mulligan, who worked with Isaac before in 2011’s “Drive,” is very good. She delivered both in terms of displaying emotions and having scenes where she banters and argues with Isaac’s character.

The person who steals all of the few scenes he’s in, though, is John Goodman. The dialogue he was given was witty and Goodman was so entertaining in his delivery that his scenes guaranteed laughs. Another character who only had a few scenes was Jim, played by Justin Timberlake. Despite being a smaller role, Timberlake does it justice.

As previously stated, the film has a bleaker tone, and that is very well captured by the Coens and crew. The entire movie has a dull, grey look to it. Despite being dreary, it still fit with what was going on in the movie. Add that to the music that played in the film and you get a very stylized picture.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” isn’t the brightest, happiest film out there, but it is still a great experience to watch. The film feels very real and the emotion is in your face and makes a person want to root for the main character.

The Coens deserve a lot of credit for giving Davis a lot of depth too and stylizing the movie around the character to fit the tone. The movie also features an Oscar caliber performance from Isaac and a solid supporting cast. Llewyn Davis’ life is definitely worth looking into at the theater. 5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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