Inside Llewyn Davis ★★★★★

This material could have only be approached this delicately, and so appropriately, by filmmakers who are as far into their careers and mastery as Joel & Ethan Coen. Reading about Inside Llewyn Davis some months ago, I couldn't imagine but a handful of other directors in addition to the Coen's who would be as suited to helm this small snapshot of the 1961 Greenwich Village folk music scene, and by the time I was actually experiencing the finished product at the theater last night, there was no debating it: the Coen's were the only filmmaking team who could have or should have taken this story on.

I can't imagine what an appreciator of great American cinema could not absolutely love about this film. No, this isn't as star-studded as some of the other classic Coen films. In fact, it's more closely related to an entry like A Serious Man than anything else in their canon, and like that film brought Michael Stuhlbarg out into the light a little more, I suspect we will be talking about Oscar Isaac much, much more after this inspired performance. Llewyn Davis doesn't make folk music so much as it makes him. He is trying to make it in a world where the easiest way to make it is to go commercial and give the studios and the audiences what they want instead of creating what he simply has boiling inside of him. He isn't necessarily likable, but how many heroes in our beloved Coen brothers films are? In this stretch of several days inside the drifting, unsure existence of Llewyn, we are reminded that timing is really a major determining factor in what will become of an artist's career, especially for those who are not so willing to sell themselves away for monetary gain.

People who haven't loved this film are pointing out the fact that Llewyn is just someone who never gives us reason enough to root for him, but I clearly saw something there to stick with. Sure, the guy isn't anywhere near a respectable human being to the people he should be most respectable to in his life, but he lives to make the music that is inside of him, and to protect the integrity of it. The Coen brothers have fashioned a bleak, cold, but immensely gratifying snapshot of a lost soul searching desperately for that moment of redemption. Watching this film was like having the opportunity to see any master painter in their prime create a work of art.

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