xio’s review published on Letterboxd:
You don't want to go anywhere, and that's why the same shit's going to keep happening to you, because you want it to.
Do you ever think about how every story is a story of grief?
Inside Llewyn Davis exudes a quiet sadness that settles like dust on old vinyl; it doesn't lift, and it seems weightless until you slide a finger through the layer—either that, or the drop in quality of life stopped feeling like a big deal a long time ago.
Llewyn's grief is an odd companion that takes the shape of an orange tabby, walking the line between life and death, presence and absence. Grief doesn't want to choose between the two; grief settles in make-believe, where it feels most unreal and hurts the least. So goes the story of Llewyn's solitude and his inability to come to terms with his loss.
The non-linearity of Inside Llewyn Davis reflects Llewyn's trapped mental state. He couch surfs without a winter coat, refuses the idea of finding a new partner, and has no trouble shouting rude remarks and obscenities at friends and strangers alike. He's found himself in a loop of mistakes and misery in which nothing can go right, and that isn't his fault.
My therapist once noted, rather humorously, that I somehow always managed to change the subject whenever she offered solutions that would without a doubt ease my depression. The fact was quite upsetting, but I made light of it despite the strong implication that I am comfortable in my low moods, ill-timed breakdowns, and regular ideations. Schrodinger's mental health: I want to be happy, but I have to fully admit my illnesses are real in order to recover.
When I'm caught in a loop I want to believe it's because there's something important about this part, something I don't want to forget, and I revisit it in movies that make me cry and memories that I have yet to understand. I put my pain on repeat because it's the only way I can process what I'm feeling.
There is still hope to be found, however, in small breaks in pattern. Llewyn stops the cat at the door before it escapes. I write coherent sentences—a review for a film that means a lot to me—for the first time in a year.
And maybe Llewyn gets beat up in an alley behind a café, and maybe I won't get enough sleep tonight, but recovery is a process. It takes time.