Friday, January 10, 2014

Movie Review: "Inside Llewyn Davis"

The new Coen Brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis, is very much a Coen Brothers film in its dark sense of humor, with its pessimistic story of failure, yet it kind of feels like a been there done that exercise.

The film follows the titular Llewyn Davis, a struggling folk singer in Greenwich Village in the 1960s.  Llewyn is the kind of complete and total mess that the Coens seem to be drawn to.  Llewyn is not the nicest guy on Earth, he bums off friends, sleeping on couches with nowhere to call home, and yet we still like him.  Why?  Perhaps it's because the Coen Brothers know what they're doing when they write characters like this.  If anyone knows how to make a tragic, seemingly unlikable character likable, it's the Coen Brothers through their witty dialogue.  Of course, while this is an enjoyable film in the Coen-style, it fails to really differentiate itself from many other films in their filmography.

Here's the thing, Inside Llewyn Davis features superb performances from the actors, in particular Oscar Isaac as Llewyn, and the songs produced by T Bone Burnett are all sensational, but aside from those elements, it feels like we're watching A Serious Man or Barton Fink all over again.  Perhaps if you've never seen any other Coen Brothers films, Inside Llewyn Davis might feel a little more fresh, however don't go thinking that I disliked this film, I just think it pales in comparison to their previous works as writers and directors for a few key reasons.  The film drags a little bit in the middle portions, especially when Llewyn is on a strange road trip with John Goodman, and the ending was a tad confusing, drawing into question what the Coens were really trying to say with this whole story.  For these reasons, Inside Llewyn Davis just failed to live up to the heights of what the Coen Brothers have previously achieved.

I give Inside Llewyn Davis a B!

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