Inside Llewyn Davis ★★★★

One of the things I love most about movies is the power they have to surprise you. I'd considered myself a Coen Brothers fan for many years, but over the last six months or so I've seen the last of their filmography in O'Brother and reevaluated Barton Fink that was the one film in their canon that had left me slightly bemused. I'd looked forward to Inside Llewyn Davis and after missing it in theaters, eagerly purchased the Blu Ray on its release. Yet again I wasn't disappointed by these two talented individuals who continue to challenge convention with an atmospheric film as far removed from a blockbuster as you can get.
Inside Llewyn Davis explores the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early sixties, and in particular Llewyn Davis, a singer in the midst of a crisis of faith. After his singing partner's suicide and his recent solo album receiving little attention, he finds himself at a crossroads in his life. Broke, and crashing from one friend's couch to another, this film has a dark,melancholic mood that suits the music beautifully. Oscar Isaac may well be the star of the show here as Llewyn, but the music for me takes center stage along with the incredible cinematography from Bruno Delbonnel which places us firmly back in the sixties. It's a beautiful looking film that never rushes to expand the story beyond that of the meandering folk singer and his struggle for appreciation and success. There is a little cameo from Coen's favorite John Goodman and with the likes of Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake as well as Garrett Hedlund and F Murray Abraham adding those crisp supporting roles, this is again another labor of love from the brothers who invariably find actors eager to participate regardless of size of the role. Mulligan also sees her good-girl image go out the window as she gets to vent venomously as a folk singer Davis has got up-the-duff. With every second word from her mouth a fuck or asshole she's certainly memorable, but thankfully Timberlake gets little chance to fuck things up with his dodgy acting.
This is a film that's un-showy. A character study of a likable man at-odds with himself and the situation fate has landed him in, Isaac is quite compelling as the main man. The music has that same period quality music that O'Brother had in spades, and I felt the music accurately reflected the tone and style of a piece as authentic as the brothers have ever delivered.

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