Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis ★★★★

The Coens are like Woody Allen for me - I adore their early, mostly funny stuff (and by early, I mean pretty much every single thing they did up until and including O Brother) but from then, they've been really hit and miss: love Burn After Reading, No Country is a bet meh, A Serious Man was zzzzzzz. So I was a bit nervous about this one, given its premise - a snapshot of a talented folk singer in Greenwich Village in 1960. I shouldn't have been......

I adored this. Llewyn as a character is one of the richest and best written (and performed) characters I've seen in ages. That crossroads he's at is such a human one that it could have been easily written to be broad (we all have to grow up some time kids.......), the plot beats could have been easily resolved (the Akon junction where he just......kept going was both heartbreaking and stupefying) and he himself could have become a stereotypical drawing of a man.....but the Coen's never went for any easy options at all.

Davis is full of contradictions (his snapping at the dinner party about playing a song - "I'm not a performing monkey, this is my job" - hiding his frustration at never quite making it) and thinly sketched observations (we only ever find out what happened to Mike in a single line.....and that itself could have been the whole centre of Davis' life in another lesser film) and it makes this 'week in a life of.....' so interesting and easy to watch, because for all his faults (oh and they are many), he is a beautifully realised character. Easily recognisable (who didn't have those dreams he has?) yet at the same time full of equally unrecognisable traits (his outburst at the folk club is shocking) that go to show how human he is......

Oscar Isaac is immense - yes, he can play a tune or two (and the tunes are superb, me not being a folkie at all), but its the way in which he watches his life spiral out of control, mostly due to his poor decisions and his own actions, with that kind of 'why me' look on his face, even though he knows full well why. And the rest of the cast do their jobs just as admirably - Carey Mulligan as the angriest woman in folk is simply hilarious.

Summary - Davis is a rounded, real character that has a film built around him that doesn't rely on silly plot beats but simply gets the character work perfect. Hugely recommended, even for people who don't like folk music.

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