Inside Llewyn Davis ★★★★

We all have dreams, goals, hopes, things we want to do with our lives. For some people, starting a family is the goal, others seek high paying jobs, others are happy with simple lives. Some of us, we want to leave something the world will remember. The Coen brothers have already accomplished this goal, directing some of the best movies to grace theaters in the past 20 years, across multiple genres. You have the crime saga Miller's Crossing, the legendary comedy The Big Lebowski, and of course, the neo-western masterpiece No Country for Old Men. I'd need another viewing, but it's quite possible that Inside Llewyn Davis deserves to be named among these films.

With Inside Llewyn Davis the Coens' craft a unassuming portrait of a man who's whole life is music. Llewyn Davis is folk singer, living in New York City in the early '60s, and things aren't going great for him. He is recently solo after the suicide of his partner, he is near destitute, couch surfing to survive and playing small gigs for a few bucks. While all of us who appreciate the pursuit of art can probably feel sympathy for this man, the Coens and actor Oscar Isaac don't make things that simple.

Llewyn isn't the nicest of people, sure, he may once have been a great guy, however, years of disappointed and failure have turned him cold and bitter. He lashes out at people, drinks way too much, pushes people away, and will generally use anyone to survive. However, this isn't a one way street, every single human being Llewyn interacts with during the course of this film uses him just as much as he uses them. From his rich friends who parade him around as a trophy to show their guests, to his folk friends who need him for cheap back-up or for his seedier connections, to random strangers, everyone asks something of Llewyn, everyone takes something.

Except a cat. Llewyn accidentally lets his wealthy friends' cat escape and he attempts to catch it, but ultimately catches the wrong cat and ends up stuck with it. A few people remark on how much he seems to care about this stray cat. Why wouldn't he? The cat is the only thing in this movie that just cares about him, it shows him love without asking anything in return. The bond the two form is real, and the moments in which the film is the most heartbreaking are reflected in this simple relationship.

While more free form rambling then a review, I feel this fits the film better. Like any Coen film, I'll probably be better equipped to sort my thoughts out about it after a second viewing, which I'd very much like to have. Until then I can say, the brothers have once again crafted a remarkable work of cinema here. Full of all their signatures (great cinematography, memorable side characters, and witty, dark humor) and complimented by flawless performances across the board. Inside Llewyn Davis is one of 2013's best films, one of the Coens' best works, and it's a damn, though ironic, shame that the academy chose to snub it as bad as it did. A damn shame indeed.

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