Inside Llewyn Davis follows a musician, struggling to survive the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960s. At a Q+A session after the film, lead actor Oscar Isaac joked that it’s kind of like “the passion of the folk singer” as Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) is battered by unsympathetic friends and missed opportunities. However, is Llewyn unlucky or self-destructive?
He’s a hard character to love. He’s frequently unkind to his friends and rarely thankful for what they give him (money, shelter, etc). And yet, they forgive him. Have they seen a different Llewyn before this, or is his selfish misery something that they see within themselves? In typical Coen Brothers fashion, these questions are never answered.
Inside Llewyn Davis is a strange kind of road movie, moving from couch to couch and diversion to diversion. It’s effective because all the pieces fit together perfectly. Isaac is sublime, playing Llewyn with effectively cold sincerity. Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel’s melancholic tones drive the film’s soulfulness. The tight, simplistic script by the Coens is spot on as always.
I have been thinking about Inside Llewyn Davis for weeks. It doesn’t have as much intellectual intrigue as other Coen films like No Country for Old Men or A Serious Man. That’s fine though, this is a different kind of movie. It has soul.