Inside Llewyn Davis Reviews

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2 comments

  • Jennifer Graf 2 years ago
    291 of 312 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    No punchline here., January 20, 2014
    By 
    Jennifer Graf (Tacoma) –

    (This review is for the theatrical release.)

    I’ve read a lot of commentary about Inside Llewyn Davis failing to deliver a pay-off. Oddly, this was one of the aspects of the film I enjoyed the most. It is devoid of the glamour and artifice of an uplifting underdog story; Llewyn’s story begins and ends in the same alley, no redemption found, his only prize the blood on his lips. Throughout the film, there were many moments I found myself wishing Llewyn would just say, or just do, this instead of that, find a way to overcome his weaknesses and flaws. But he always says, or does, exactly as Llewyn would do.

    This is what I find so refreshing about the film, the screenplay driving it and the performances delivering it. The characters on-screen act with the same perplexing unpredictability as we all do. They never know just what to say to each other. They talk at each other rather than to each other. They are weak, and often unlikeable, and often uncomfortably vulnerable. Our expectations as an audience, sculpted by decades of formulaic Joseph Campbell-driven story arcs, are of no consequence here.

    I think our desire for packages with bows on them stems from our yearning for life to follow suit. But it doesn’t, does it? We are all little islands of feeling trying desperately and confusedly to express some sort of identity and to find a voice that will connect us to others.

    I think it is essential to the film that we don’t know the details of Llewyn’s story. His relationship with Jean, his estrangement from his father, the loss of his musical partner; these things are vague hints, and as such, we can’t take sides. We can’t make Llewyn a hero or a villain. And so we must perceive him only as a man. A man who is somewhat pretentious, who maybe only knows how to express himself through an art form both nostalgic and exploited, a man who is selfish and yet heartbreakingly exposed.

    The screenplay, the performances, the cinematography, and the sound direction are all superb. It is an earnest film. It tells a truer story than most.

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  • Ohio Reader 2 years ago
    15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Yes! This is how it was., March 30, 2014
    By 
    Ohio Reader (Ohio USA) –

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    It surely took me back to The Day. This movie, with its mostly dingy sets and costumes really did recapture the seedy, competitive, mellow, unique, early days of the folk revival where gentle fingerpicked guitar accompaniments nestled around lovely songs, both ancient and newly composed. There was probably some wisdom in underplaying the lead character claimed to be based on well-known singer Dave Van Ronk who I remember as having a more raucous, abrasive persona than appears in this movie. Llewyn Davis is, instead, an ordinary, mostly likeable, forgivably flawed, everysinger, anykid who ever practiced his guitar and his singing seriously enough to develop a halfway competent sound that stood out enough from the ordinary to earn set time on a spotlighted coffeehouse stool, but never developed the originality, star quality, and discipline required to actually function in that cruel, nefarious business that masqueraded as an uneasy amalgam of homey kitchen and antiques mall. That most songs are performed in their entirety throughout the movie is a delight and will result in hefty album sales, though maybe not quite as profitable as the music of “O Brother Where Art Thou” which appeals to a wider audience. Llewyn’s rootless, penurious lifestyle so captures the actual situation of many of the young singers who managed to survive just short of starvation and homelessness while they waited (mostly in vain) to Happen in New York and, yes, even in lesser cities. The vulnerability of these young people to exploitation and abuse portrayed in the movie is true to life as is Llewyn’s willingness to risk repeated betrayal and frustration in his quest for the featured spot. Once I got over not recognizing Dave Van Roink in Llewyn Davis, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The ending was just delicious, exactly how it felt when the music evolved!!! Inside Llewyn Davis did recapture a remarkable time in our cultural history that many of us remember more fondly than it deserves.

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