Writer: Asha Gizelle M.Writer Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects:
NACinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"La Bamba" and "The Josephine Baker Story".
The black dramedy set in 1961 comes to life at the Gaslight Cafe where Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) strums his guitar (well, not exactly his own) and belts out "Hang Me, Oh Hang Me". What one may not imagine is of the character would be his bearings on life. Living a cliched life of 'something borrowed, something nice', problems greet the botched musician from every corner only to never say goodbye.
Llewyn Davis, a singer in the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961 whose partner, Mike (whom you will never meet on screen) had committed suicide, finds recognition and success eluding him even with his God-given vocal abilities. With two forgivingly lovely friends, an unsuspecting feline and his final ray of hope to make it big in Chicago via an unplanned road trip with a bigwig, Llewyn lives by the school of hard knocks that comes with whimsical characters in his life. "Inside Llewyn Davis" essays the notion of living life like a folk song; revealing another face of American history and the then dying culture of folk music.
Winter in the harshest epithet makes the musical ever so depressing while the quasi-flashback essays the wintry tale of a distressed musician that basically has no solid plot, but rather a week-long following of his life back and forth where time and industry forsakes the virtuoso talent.
Very loosely based on Dave Van Ronk and Rambling Jack Elliot who were performers from the same era, the Coen brothers as film directors, screenwriters, editors and producers alike, have handpicked scenes that were fused into the film to give the ethereal feel of 60's in America. It wasn't exactly a pretty sight and the glitz that one may expect from a conventional musical only comes from the scenes at the Gaslight Cafe and Chicago while Llewyn Davis is slumped over the guitar, strumming and performing numbers that sadly don't struck a chord with the listeners.
The choices of cast mates are commendable. But Oscar Isaac more or less ran the show on his own with some side-kicks along the way, to add allure to the account of the somber musical landscape.
The character of Llewyn Davis is actually an amalgam of Dave Van Ronk and Rambling Jack Elliot and, of course, Oscar Isaac's pulp fiction form which couch surfs and hitchhikes through life. Oscar Isaac's Llewyn was a heady combination of a musician who can pretty much lure any damsel to his couch and a grown man who still tugs a cat under his arm in the unforgiving cold.
If the kitty wasn't going to be part of the storyline, the residual plot could have been lost or it could have been just another back and forth kind of story. The purpose of the film would have been lost had it not been for the ginger tomcat who plays a symbolic representation in Llewyn's waking life.
Other biggies that you may screen acquaint with would be Carey Mulligan (Jean), Justin Timberlake (Jim) and John Goodman (Roland Turner). Timberlake's role was more of an upsized cameo where he appears once or twice in between. And Mulligan once again didn't shy away from two men (or maybe even more) in her script after "The Great Gatsby".
The comedic chops, although not the sitcom sort, manages to steal a laugh or two, perhaps at how life turns its back on us at times. Emotions are stirred in an analogical sense to the point Llewyn's singing produces nothing but a satisfied old father's smile (that wasn't exactly meant as appreciation but for the fact that the old man had soiled his pants).
The flow of the film is wonderful and it keeps one guessing if Llewyn Davis and folk music would ever see the light at the end of a long, cold tunnel. The climax for some may be a little puzzling but that too isn't spared of the Coen brothers' taste for subtlety headed for the bull's eye. It is only after the credits start rolling in that one would ever realise, what they just watched was actually a quasi-flashback. Point to be taken during the last scene was when Llewyn Davis calls out to his mugger in the dark and says 'Au Revoir'.
The film has a tenable spot into the years even after bagging several awards. simply because of the depiction of a place in time when humans along with music suffered depression and not a clean death. If you are the type to headhunt for vinyl records and revel in music journalism, "Inside Llewyn Davis" would be more than your visual and acoustic companion. Cinema Online, 22 January 2014