Hold Onto Your Potatoes…Laney Loves Her Time ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ (Movie Review)

DavisOnce again and without disappointment, the Coen brothers showcase their talent for delivering an impeccably honest journey of life affirmation as told by Inside Llewyn Davis. Just as important, and equally as impressive, is T Bone Burnett’s contribution to the soundtrack. The film travels the same avenue as O Brother, Where Art Thou in that it delivers a cynical laugh on the account of a less than well off character trying to navigate his way through the crap shoot that is life. Full set folk ballads are interspersed throughout the film which convey the ever present Coen trademark of melancholy beauty.

In 1961, Llewyn Davis, played by Oscar Isaac, is trying to emerge on the Greenwich Village folk scene. The music charts were still brimming with Doo Wop singles and the harsh and depressing tune of a single voice accompanied with an acoustic guitar was a style that just wasn’t making money– yet. Bumming couches and playing for basket change, Llewyn’s life as a musician is less than glamorous. The audience is exposed to the lovely imperfections that can now be seen as a successful genre thus following the life of this starving folk singer is told much like an elegy as Llewyn is dealt the cards of rejection time and time again.

We follow Llewyn as he takes on the harsh and unforgiving reality of the New York streets as he bounces between the couches and floors of friends and acquaintances. Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan star as Jim and Jean: a great on paper couple and aspiring folk duo. Mitch and Lillian, played by Ethan Phillips and Robin Bartlett, are another reoccurring couple that welcome Llewyn with open arms whenever he runs out of options. More characters wander in and out of the story including the brief but brilliant appearance by a Coen favorite, John Goodman as a boisterous and wildly offensive jazz junkie. Stark Sands, Adam Driver, and Garrett Hedlund also make short but notable entrances.

It’s quick to pick up on the notion that Llewyn Davis is his own worst enemy. Plagued with a self-destructive attitude, Llewyn just can’t catch a break. It’s almost painful that we watch Llewyn just barely keep his head above water. It’s not just his music career, but his path in life. Losing his friend’s cat (which becomes a hysterical charade played out from movie beginning to end) and getting his best friend’s girlfriend pregnant are just two of the many predicaments that make Llewyn a walking contradiction as both the protagonist and antagonist. The Coen’s do an amazing job showcasing a story that’s nothing more than a slice of life into a masterpiece.

Inside Llewyn Davis would not be what it is without the power ballad of folk songs both old and new. The majority of songs are sung by the film’s cast and most excellently to mention. Timerlake, known as an exclusive pop R&B crooner, nails the folk rifts. Marcus Mumford lends his voice as Llewyn’s late musical partner and accompanies Isaac on the track “Fare Thee Well.” Isaac holds his own with “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me” and “The Death of Queen Jane.” Bob Dylan and Dave Von Ronk also add contribution that provide the life and soul of the soundtrack.

The Coen brother’s bold choice of mostly lack-luster actors was the right one as they most certainly come together to form not only a beautifully mastered story, but a 105 minute time warp. Some of the most touching moments emerge as Llewyn sings his intimate lyrics to a party of one only to get the same anticipated response of rejection. Reminiscent of Fargo, the lingering cold and gray cinematography blows off the screen, merging the audience ever closer to feel the same ache of disappointment and failure as Llewyn himself. If you can withstand the melancholy life circumstances that Joel and Ethan Coen have delivered in the past, it’s highly recommended you see Inside Llewyn Davis.


1 Response to “Hold Onto Your Potatoes…Laney Loves Her Time ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ (Movie Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    We’re 2 for 2 with 5-star Llewyn reviews on Why So Blu! http://whysoblu.com/inside-llewyn-davis-movie-review/