Monday, January 27, 2014

Movie Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

At this point in the game, it's become a universal fact that the Coen brothers are brilliant filmmakers. Anyone who's into film, from avid cinephiles to AMC gift card junkies, knows that a new Coen brothers release is tantamount to required viewing. At least this was my experience with their latest film, Inside Llewyn Davis. A film that left me feeling cold after first viewing the trailer, but I forced myself to watch simply because of the brilliant men behind the camera. Well, the verdict is in...

Inside Llewyn Davis is a massive bore. Yes, the film is rife with great performances, stunning cinematography and enough quirky dark humor to make Walter Sobchak proud but even these qualities couldn't save the film from being a snooze fest of epic proportions. The plot meanders along like the music it's protagonist plays, and while Llewyn Davis' songs are raw and heartfelt, the overall tone of the film is frigid and lifeless.

Best Supporting Actress: this cat
Oscar Issac stars as Llewyn Davis, an aspiring folk singer and all around asshole. Davis bums around the streets of New York during the winter of 1961, determined to make it big as a folk singer, find a new couch to sleep on and apparently, alienate every last friend and family member who tries helping him. Davis may be the ultimate schmuck, but Oscar Issac brings a human quality to this thoroughly unlikable character, delivering a truly standout performance that ultimately salvages the entire film. I mean, I'm no folk music enthusiast but even I managed to enjoy Issac's impassioned performances throughout the film. Too bad once Llewyn Davis stopped playing, Inside Llewyn Davis resumed it's uninspired march to the doldrums. Although I admire several technical aspects of this film, I cannot wholeheartedly endorse it which leaves me at an odd conundrum.

Inside Llewyn Davis is a film about a starving artist, a musician who struggles to achieve his creative vision without compromising his integrity for a quick buck. Throughout the film, Davis ignores just about every piece of advice/criticism thrown his way and views all interlopers with great contempt. He's the genius, their opinions are invalid and he will become famous on his own terms, or to quote the great Dirk Diggler-
I'm the star, it's my big dick and I say when we roll.
 Unfortunately, Llewyn's raw talent isn't enough. His bitter arrogance and unyielding personality negates his undeniable musical prowess and damns him to couch surfing for all eternity. In many ways, Joel and Ethan Coen have crafted a film eerily similar to it's protagonist. An aloof slab of celluloid that is technically brilliant but genuinely non-entertaining or compelling in anyway. Although a competent picture, I'm not convinced Inside Llewyn Davis is a film that absolutely needed to be made.

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