Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
September 11, 2018 2:30 AM - Subscribe

A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.

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some pro
Moving, funny (but not frivolous; the characters never turn into cartoons), brilliant, it's a rib-sticking movie that represents a new high for its creators. Roger Ebert dot com

Inside Llewyn Davis is a transporting cinematic experience with a churl at its center, and how you feel about the movie may depend on how you feel about the churl. The Boston Globe
some con
Inside Llewyn Davis feels to me like a picture in which the brothers never got in such a hole they had to find a way of believing in their own material. It has a shrugging, routine moodiness. It never bites in the way, in No Country for Old Men, Bardem’s Chigurh is a match for the devil and Tommy Lee Jones becomes the spirit of every disenchanted lawman in American cinema. The Coens [however] are master storytellers even when they are doing junk. The New Republic

Having put this human exasperation at the center of the story (the other characters are mere satellites with a few scenes each), the Coens constructed an episodic format that is as loose as, say, Jack Kerouac’s Beat novel On the Road, and which depends utterly on the distinctiveness of the eccentrics who people each episode. Time
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs (10 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Tyler Durdencat ! This is a great set of links, thank you.
posted by grandiloquiet at 3:41 PM on September 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

The thing I find the most intriguing about this movie is how Llewyn starts off looking (to me) so very attractive and then as things head further and further south for him and you get a picture of who he is, his appeal starts to decline; he's still gorgeous but it's tinged with rot, somehow.

Amazing music and performances. One of my favourite Coen brother movies.
posted by h00py at 5:14 AM on September 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I really enjoyed this. It was funny. I wouldn't go as far as to say it had compassion for the characters, but it had a sort of fondness for everyone. The music (both the good and the intentionally mediocre) was perfect. I had a feeling of being there, which was super fun. I don't think it had something especially important to say, but it was a really entertaining watch and was effective at what it did.
posted by latkes at 7:14 AM on October 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah the links in this post are great. I forgot how terrible/funny the Please Mister Kennedy bit was.
posted by latkes at 7:20 AM on October 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

I loved how the Gorfein's, how warm and understanding they were. Even after he freaks out they're still happy to see him and welcoming.
posted by Carillon at 11:09 AM on July 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was watching this movie thinking, okay, it's not gonna be my favourite Coen brothers film but I like it. The ending was unexpected and I thought it was neat.

Then in the middle of the night I woke up thinking "omigod it's like a depressing Groundhog Day, he says au revoir at the end, he lost track of when he last saw Jean, etc etc". He doesn't want to give up on his dream but if he moves on to the next day he will have to face the truth that he will never be as authentic as the older lady he heckled and he will never sell out to become commercial. So he just keeps looping through, trying to find another option that doesn't exist. If so, he's probably tried going to Akron before, and gotten back into the merchant marines, and those are intolerable too.

In the light of day I'm not sure that theory holds up, not least because the movie ends with him injured in a gutter with no winter coat. He may be dying there like a stereotypical starving artist, friendless in the gutter. Even if there was a loop, by preventing the cat from escaping the apartment (and therefore showing a capacity to learn and grow?) he may have ended it.

But I've always thought the Coens make simpler movies than their reputation says they do. Like Kubrick, there are references but they're part of a visual language and creating an atmosphere, not clues to secret meanings.

So if I put my tinfoil hat away, I'm left with a movie about a guy who is not as much of an arsehole as Jean says he is, but is definitely immature. He values authenticity but has no idea how to reconcile it with being part of a family or community, and he's a purist who knows he will never be as pure as he wants to be. He's good at what he does, and hustles hard to try to make it happen, but his grief over his partner leaves him depressed and self-sabotaging.

The Coen's film world is existential so there can be beauty and humour but the universe doesn't care how hard you work for your dreams. Luck and randomness mean that only a few people ever get what they want. And they're not interested in telling stories about improbable success. I think at least some of this story is speculating about what would have happened if they couldn't have worked together on their own projects. And maybe some heart for people who've lost their partners in love or work or both.

My feeling is that this story is intended to be the movie equivalent of a folk song - struggling artists were never new, but they're never going to stop happening while we live in an imperfect world, so the story never gets old either. Some other guy gets the lucky break, and everyone else just muddles on as best they can.
posted by harriet vane at 5:12 AM on March 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Also if this movie doesn't sound like your cup of tea, do at least watch Oscar Isaac singing Please Mr Kennedy with Justin Timberlake and as much sincerity as he can muster up, while Adam Driver says "outer SPACE!" like the best 1950s hype man ever. It's hilarious, I love it.
posted by harriet vane at 5:18 AM on March 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Sometimes, the wrong people will overhype filmmakers and take the fun out of them for you for a while. But then time goes by, the hype fades, and you can quietly go back and catch up and have a nice time. that happened to me with the Coens.

I'm about 10-11 years late on this one, but it really is wonderful.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:38 AM on February 9

Kind of a tiny point that doesn't matter, but do we think Oscar Isaac sings "I've been all around Cape Gir-deau" because he didn't register that Dave Van Ronk was slurring "Cape GirARdeau" to fit the syllable space? Or was that a clue that Llewyn hadn't really done all that traveling himself?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:40 AM on February 14

It probably doesn't mean anything except that no one on set had been near east Missouri.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:59 AM on February 14

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