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Monday, 3 February 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis

Genre: Drama
Directed: Joel and Ethan Cohen
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan and John Goodman. 
Running: 104min

The Cohen Brothers, or better known to close friends (in which I am not) as Joel and Ethan, are known for their brotherly love on set. They have gone on to write, produce and ultimately direct some of Hollywood's finest movies. I have gone on to see a few such as Fargo (1996) and The Big Lebowski (1998). Both movies supply a comedic premise with a dramatic twist with Fargo offering a darker concept; one we have come to recognise in No Country for Old Men (2007) and True Grit (2010) A Cohen Bros. movie is renowned for leaving stones unturned with the credits most likely to show unexpectedly. It is a crafty way of film making, it's unusual but as a fan it's satisfying, but not for everyone. 

Inside Llewyn Davis is just that; grey skies, dry humour with little or no plot. However it is a recognised creation by the Cohens; meaning it thrives on your engagement regarding the protagonist, putting this musical and slightly depressing drama down to your consensus on Llewyn's troubles - if you think there is any. 

The year is 1961 and the scene of New York is frosty, so cold that the majority of folks spend their days listening to live music in the Gaslight cafe; an independent stepping stone for upcoming musicians. One such is Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) who sets the tone of the movie by performing a wonderful song titled "Hang Me". Llewyn and his guitar is a recognised image but far from liked. Llewyn's past is one that tends to haunt him through-out and one that prevents him from achieving the solo height he so strongly feels he deserves. However his habit of moving from couch to couch in order to survive the cold sees his once close friends look upon him in despicable ways (ways in which I found myself disagreeing with, anyway). 

Llewyn Davis (Issac), Jim (Timberlake) and Al Cody
played by Adam Driver
Llewyn is not aloud forget his former partner in which they had wider success and to rub it in, close friends Jim (Justin Timberlake) and Jean (Carry Mulligan) are moving on from his burden. At the same time, Llewyn's hopes of financial regain hit a brick wall when his manager tells him that his latest album is not selling.  All of Llewyn's troubles seem financially focused along with the presence of Jean and his moral ambition to return a cat is what may seem to be the plot of this movie. 

But it is the travels of Llewyn is what is most engaging as the story doesn't necessarily unfold to anything, it just becomes deeper and more personal as he seeks to forget a past in order to help prolong a career that has struggled to pay the bills - you either ride along with Llewyn in support or to witness him fail. The characters in his life are placed to paint a picture of a man they either know too much about or nothing at all. Nevertheless, this is a Cohen Bros movie so there is no consensus regarding the leading protagonist. That said, the down an out character portrayed wonderfully by Oscar Isaac shows little or no personality but he is darkly humorous in parts and goes on to perform out of his skin for the most as everything you hear is live.

The trouble for some people seeing this movie may be just that; all style no substance. I found myself singing along from the off but I also enjoyed each of the character's dialogue and the simple film making involved within it. I can see where some people may despise this film - particularly as it ends in typical Cohen Bros fashion. 

Overall: Great characters portrayed wonderfully by Oscar Isaac, Carry Mulligan and not forgetting John Goodman. With a plot that is not entirely obvious, Inside Llewyn Davis thrives off self-motivation, ambition, selfishness and crude personalities, this musical story is simply crafted but may not answer all of your questions. 

Tomorrows review:
Out of the Furnace, starring Christian Bale, Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson. 

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