Dragonknight’s review published on Letterboxd:
”Llewyn is the cat.”
It’s wonderful how Joel and Ethan Coen can take any type of story and make it their own, just give them a typical story and with their black comedy and distinguished style they will turn it into something unique, something that we've never seen before. Gangster, musical, crime thriller, western, madcap comedy. Just give them a genre and they will give you a masterpiece. Their latest work, Inside Llewyn Davis, is another incredible, finely balanced and memorable movie which once again gives us a chance to engage ourselves in an immaculate world created by the spotless minds of two of the most gifted artists of our time and forget everything else.
Inside Llewyn Davis is certainly one of the most bitter movies made by brothers, their sense of humor is sharper, their protagonist is a spiritually and financially crushed musician who can’t even befriend a cat and the chilling visuals – full of grey and cold colors – make him and his life look even more miserable. Although there are moments of black comedy in the film where the brothers’ distinct way of adding silliness and stupidity to the most serious moments of life shows itself but generally there is an unpleasant realism in Inside Llewyn Davis which separates it from their more “cinematic” and adventurous films, this anti-American Dream approach ultimately makes this a dark and compassionate portrait of an artist whose passion for folk music exceeds his passion for life.
Oscar Isaac’s powerhouse performance helps us to get closer to Llewyn and his miserable life. People can’t even spell his name, the secretary behind the phone thinks that he is a cat, his former girlfriend is calling him an a-hole all the time, the cat he is taking care of runs away from him and even when he performs perfectly someone comes out of darkness to beat him and remind him that life can only offer agony and suffering for him. Isaac never makes Llewyn look like a poor pitiable individual, in fact you can see a certain kind of pride in his face and the way he treats people – which may be the main reason that he is suffering so much, the story has the potential to become utterly sentimental and syrupy but Isaac’s strong performance that deals with everything with absolute calmness along with the direction of brothers who never let the movie to lose its tonal harmony give the film an honest and touching look.
Another thing about Inside Llewyn Davis that makes its watching experience quite unique is that it is one of those films that continues to grow in your mind after you finish watching it, at first it may not look that powerful or sublime but the more you think about it the more you notice its subtlety, one reason for this is that the film is not as dramatic as you may expect, in fact we only hear about the most dramatic points of Llewyn’s story (the death of his friend for example) and instead of showing us the drama the brothers show us the impact of those events, we never see what has happened between Llewyn and Jean but we see what effect it has had on Llewyn’s life, this character based approach ultimately makes Llewyn a three-dimensional character and gives us the chance to come back to him – and other characters - later after watching the film and in the end this what deepens the movie’s story and makes it more powerful.
Inside Llewyn Davis is a requiem for an artist, a film that is hard to forget easily, once again Coens give us a film full of memorable moments and multi-layered characters and remind us that cinema’s powers – as a form of art – to narrate the most touching and affecting stories is beyond compare.