Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Directors: Ethan and Joel Coen
Starring: Oscar Issac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John
Goodman, Garret Hedlund
Beginning at the end, it seems there isn’t much redemption or resolve in-store for Oscar Issac’s character, LLewyn Davis. Davis is a struggling folk singer during the partial up-rise of the genre in a
1961, Greenwich Village. The film spans a week-in-the-life-of, and sees Llewyn carrying around his guitar (and often a cat), seeking his dream of scoring a record deal and making it as an acclaimed folk singer. From the very beginning we, the audience, are given a sense of his often unaware and careless nature, that more often that not, sees him into many a troublesome situation.
Standing mostly alone throughout, Llewyn is stubborn, proud and very occasionally endearing. The film, I found was immensely enjoying, but not for reasons stemming from relation to any of the
characters. Jean, played by Carey Mulligan is also a folk singer- girlfriend and singing partner to Jim, (Justin Timberlake). Much to Jean’s dismay, she has become pregnant after a night spent with Llewyn- unbeknown to Jim. Throughout, her character remains incredibly hostile, unforgiving and seems to be unable to relate to any others problems than those of her own.
Davis spends most of his nights surfing from couch to couch. His extremely forgiving friends, Lillian and Mitch Gorfein are always there to offer their (very lovely) apartment up to him. It’s after a dinner party- turned- sour that Llewyn storms out and decides to go on a road trip, that does he actually realise how he may just be alienating himself from those close to him. His relationship with his sister blows from hot to cold, most of their woes boiling down to their ill and deteriorating father- who Llweyn barely visits.
The road trip he takes, leads him to Chicago, where he hopes to fulfil his dream of getting his record deal. He treks to the studio to see Bud Grossman, F. Murray Abraham of Homeland- what a treat! It’s the journey from New York to Chicago where we meet John Goodman’s character, Roland Turner- overweight junky and jazz enthusiast. Turner’s behaviour towards folk music and Llewyn is far from kind- I saw him as encompassing the dark, unwelcoming side of the world in folk music that Llewyn seeks to break through, with no success.
After realising his real chances of making it big alone, the film of course brings us and Llewyn, back to where it first started. It is there, at the end that, Llweyn goes forward, leaving the us to wonder whether he will make any changes to his life, or whether he will continue his circular journey through life.
Inside Llewyn Davis is a brilliant watch, but for what I consider to be unconventional reasons. Making it in the folk genre is portrayed in method throughout the film, and if anything watching this to discover Oscar Isaac’s musical talents is reason enough.