Drama : [Last Film I Watch] Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

[Last Film I Watch] Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Title: Inside Llewyn Davis
Year: 2013
Country: USA, UK, France
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Music
Directors/Writers: Ethan & Joel Coen
Music: T-Bone Burnett
Cinematography: Bruno Delbonnel
Cast:
Oscar Isaac
Carey Mulligan
Justin Timberlake
John Goodman
Garrett Hedlund
F. Murray Abraham
Adam Driver
Max Casella
Ethan Phillips
Robin Bartlett
Jeanine Serralles
Stark Sands
Jerry Grayson
Alex Karpovsky
Helen Hong
Bradley Mott
Rating: 8.5/10

Coen Brothers’ under-appreciated 15th feature is set in the early 60s when the beat generation begins to give way to a hippie culture, Llewyn Davis (Isaac), is a frustrated songwriter-singer who used to be in a folk duo, barely scrapes a living in the Greenwich Village, he has recorded a solo album named INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS after losing his musical partner, but a breakthrough never comes knocking on his door. Couch-surfing among his friends, which by the way, are not many, due to his unapproachable personality, Llewyn occasionally performs in the the Gaslight Cafe, so are his friends Jim and Jean (Timberlake and Mulligan).

Life turns a harsh front to Llewyn, one day, he is stuck with a cat of the Gorfeins (Phillips and Bartlett), an older couple generously lets him sleep in their apartment; his album doesn’t sell, so no royalties from the small label, and Jean is pregnant, but she cannot tell who is the father, it could be him or Jim, so she demands an abortion, during the appointment with a gynaecologist, he accidentally finds out very possibly he has a two-year-old son from a previous relationship. After a capricious tantrum at the Gorfeins’, he takes a last-resort effort to visit the famous producer Bud Grossman (Abraham) in Chicago, carpooling with two musicians, Johnny Five (Hedlund), a laconic beat poet and Roland Turner (Coen brothers’ long-serving trouper John Goodman), a pontificating heroin-addict, one of the most physically unpleasant character ever, the trip is not at all balmy, and his self-reccomendation doesn’t pan out either.

Llewyn is a sad sack, he might be talented, but not a sure-fire material, there is only one Bob Dylan and the rest are all Dylan-wannabes, he finally faces the music and decides to try something old, a seaman, but reality again hits him hard, corners him with financial despair. Near the coda, he returns to the Gaslight, where under the sublimely nostalgic spotlight, he performs his timeless folk songs, it is the only time audience can unanimously enchanted by his nonchalant charm, his soulful voice and his aggrieved heart. It is a star-making role for Oscar Isaac, whose former music career finally pays off. The melancholy soundtrack produced by T-Bone Burnett cements the film’s cornerstone of pulsating affections whereas Isaac’s stunning portrayal results in a vicarious immediacy of Llewyn’s predicament, his sophisticated emotional spectrum, he makes us care for him, in defiance of his flawed persona, if it is not plain first-grade acting, I don’t know what it is. Supporting characters galore, but all exist in transience, apart from the cardboard but caricatured design of Goodman and Hedlund, a swearing Mulligan sticks out like a sore thumb, her Jean oozes a repugnant air of moral superiority although we all realise, it is surely taking two to tango, a quite stimulating role for her to pull off.

It seems that Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography is perpetually sifted through a saxe-blue filter, and imbues the picture with a pure gorgeousness vastly contrasting with other Hollywood commodities. Furthermore, the interlinkage between Llewyn and the cat, aka. Ulysses, reflects Coen brothers’ genius in refining their roles with immaculate conceit, "Llewyn has the cat or Llewyn is the cat”, their script is sharp-witted as always, and the film wondrously begins and ends with the same happening, Llewyn’s last line is “au revoir”, to his *beep* life - goodbye until we meet again, it is their dark humour teasing us with a mordant impact, incredible work!

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