Inside Llewyn Davis – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

inside llweyn davisInside Llewyn Davis – 3.5/5 –  When you watch movies, you always have a sense of wanting it to be amazing, no matter what the genre is.   There are times though, when you come to realize; feelings have to be tempered expectations.  Regardless of anything; you just come to know that with temperament, some movies are bigger than what they should be.  This recently released blu-ray (one that I was looking forward to) seems to be deeply invoked by grandeur feelings, but never really grasp the genuine feeling of the grounded points of the film.  The Coen Brothers delivers a good film, but there are a lot of missteps to make Inside Llewyn Davis just an above average film.

Premise: It is the time of the 1960s music scene.  Here, we experience this life through the eyes of one man, and his struggles to be what he was born to be, a folk singer.

In the title role of Llewyn Davis is Oscar Isaac.  As this musician down on his luck, Isaac brings this character to life, making you feel who he is and what he is as a person.  For all the low points, this is one of the highlights of the films.  His raw talent to exude purpose and feeling through more than just words shows the strength and weaknesses found in the character.  This movie is built on perspective, and when the directive fails at that point (explained later) it succeeds with the actor himself.  It is found through how he plays, interacts and lives through situation after situation.  As you watch this progressive person live, there are a lot of layers that exudes confidence and emptiness.  The vigor and loneliness is in great contrast, and you feel every emotion.  The proof comes when he begins to play his guitar and sings, as all those ‘moments’ culminate in these beautifully written and performed lines.  The characterization of Davis’s as a real person is vivid; as you realize he has a caring heart, even when he is arrogant at times towards people in the film.  Watching that ‘grounded’ feeling envelope in Llewyn Davis helps keep the film watchable throughout its running time.  When it comes to the rest of the actors/actress in the film, some of the notables are:

Carey Mulligan as Jean

Justin Timberlake as Jim

Ethan Phillips as Mitch Gorfein

Robin Bartlett as Lillian Gorfein

John Good man as Roland Turner

Adam Driver as Al Cody

F. Murray Abraham as Bud Grossman

These people are well noted in the film because they help flesh out the important figures in Llweyn Davis’s life.  Each of them has some ‘purpose’ in what he has or will do, helping define the livelihood of everyday life.  Even though there characteristics aren’t fleshed out, the way the approach is done creates enough attachment to care a bit.

When it comes to a Coen Brothers film, there is never anything ‘genre specific’.  What makes most (if not all) of their films so special is the individualism that is brought to the directive approach.  No matter what films they have created and directed (The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, etc); it is the focus on the characters and how their experiences drive the film. As wonderful as the films they have made were, that doesn’t mean they don’t have hiccups along the way.  This film is the basic case of ‘bigger than itself’.  I will not break down the film in basic acts because it can only be described within the ‘experience’ that it is supposed to be.  From beginning till the end, you basically follow Llewyn Davis for a week, experiencing his life in being a folk singer struggling in the 1960s.  You follow him from when he sings at the local ‘scene’ spot, to his random encounters with friends, strangers and top musical executives in New York and Chicago.  Through it all, it is based off these experiences that you are supposed to grasp the themes of music and life.  What happens is there is a grandeur sense (as mention in the prologue) to every high point in the film.  The directors try too hard to be that colorful kind of film while also trying to be ‘down to earth’.  Because of the juggling act, there is no connective element within the experience, causing the poignant parts to fragment the overall sensibility.  In this, the film never grasps its point, characters or anything in particular as a whole.  That is what is suppose to make these ‘experience’ kind of films so amazing; letting the direction, story and progress stay central to the characters.  It never does, and you never really care about the important moments that do happen between Davis and the other characters.  The only plus about this film is the characters themselves and the musical element.  This is when the film does shine, bringing you the emotions that were expected throughout.  Even for all of the fragmented parts, it still deliver when it needs to, and each of those specific points (musical sessions, epiphanies and epilogue act) helps bring in some enjoyment.

The visuals of the film are very align to the times (1960s); as you get a grainy camera scope with a hazy coloring effect.  This helps bring some life to the characters, and emphasize the aura of the times.  The score is one of the big strengths (as it is a musical enticed film), helping bring out emotions and struggles for the main character.  That layering of music with emotion helps broaden the appeal, keeping the film lively but simple.

Inside Llewyn Davis is a film that has something good bubbling underneath, but all the missteps in direction causes a completely different reaction.  Because of this reaction, and who was directing (Coen Brothers) this film can be called overrated.  Even so, there is enough to enjoy.  If you’re a fan of the directors and like films about ‘experience’, check it out.  It is a worthy rental and addition to a collection, but don’t expect greatness here.

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