Inside Llewyn Davis – Review


On one of his An Evening With… DVDs, director Kevin Smith once stated that “you can look at a Coen brothers movie and you know that’s a Coen brothers movie”. While no one has ever been able to pin down exactly what the aesthetic quality of a Coen brothers movie actually boils down to, it’s there, it’s undeniable, and in the case of Inside Llewyn Davis, both it’s strength and weakness.


Charting several days in the life of a down-and-out folk singer who’s struggling to carry on in the aftermath of his creative partner’s suicide, the film is at once devoid of any kind of momentum and yet strangely compelling – in large part due to the charismatic performance of Oscar Isaac as the lead, whose failed solo album also shares the movie’s title.


A very bland affair overall, the film peaks and troughs with various scenes; a shared car journey with the likes of John Goodman (who delivers the film’s single best line) and Garrett Hedlund (who should rightly be a star by now) forming the film’s undeniable high point. Directorially, the film maintains the unique Coen brothers charm, but the typically drawn out Coenesque story does feel lacking, forcing the film to fall back on Isaac time and time again and diminishing a very effective performance by simply overburdening it with the weight of the overall film.


There’s definitely an audience that’s been waiting for Inside Llewyn Davis, debatably made up of the sort of people that enjoy the sort of folk music found within, but it’s not something that works tremendously well within a multiplex setting with a friday night crowd. By no means the Coens’ worst movie, but it’s so far removed from the likes of the grittily terrifying No Country For Old Men or the hysterically offbeat The Big Lebowski that it’s a difficult film to sit with and process in one sitting. I suspect the film will earn itself an impressive cult following in years to come with the release of a (no doubt stylistic) Blu Ray, but in the here and now the film relies too heavily on Isaac's great performance and a handful of moments to really gel with a mainstream audience.



Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.



In it
Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman

Behind it
The Coen Brothers

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