Tay’s review published on Letterboxd:
consider this review to be, if nothing else, a love letter to whoever colored this film. my god. every single shot is piquant, so well-balanced and rich and utterly, terribly romantic. we all know that Oscar Isaac is beautiful, but he’s never looked This Good. the blues, the orange cat… i wish to always be this breathless when looking at art.
i’d like to think of this film as occupying the opposite bookend to the Before trilogy. there’s something invitingly warm about Linklater’s films that is equivalent to how detached & dreadful but nonetheless intoxicating the Coen brothers’ portrait of an absolutely pathetic, lonely man is. this is no story of love & longing, this is no absolution. but still: this is full of life, even if it’s a sad life, even if it’s a little life, even if it’s a life that is unnervingly possible. the magic of music here is not even necessarily healing. when Llewyn sings, time suspends itself, but that escapism almost hurts as badly as returning to reality does. because we must return. we must acknowledge the truth. and the truth is that Llewyn just cannot get his goddamn shit together in the wake of grief. and there is nothing — and i mean fucking nothing — more tragic than watching someone put rocks in their own pockets and ask why they’re drowning. i don’t know if Llewyn even asks that. i don’t know if he even tries to save himself, or if he wants to be saved. he floats from moment to moment, dicking over lovers and cats and friends and strangers along the way. it’s not clear what keeps him going anymore, and perhaps it’s nothing more than some biological instinct to self-preserve.
but whatever moves him moved me, too. when he cradles the cats. when he picks a record out. when he sings, although they’re not songs: he wails his laments.
someone once said to me that the worst part of losing someone & grieving is that you will be okay. you have to go on. the world does not stop moving, but it also does not radically change, even when what you knew before has been totally decimated. your ashes are your own. the world largely does not care, the world does not shrug for the weight you must bear alone.
there’s something ugly about that. there’s something beautiful, though, about that kind of resilience, too. it’s a cold resilience, sure. but it’s a song of forwardness nonetheless.