Inside Llewyn Davis ★★★★½

Taking a dreary look at the folk music atmosphere of the 1960's, the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis is a melancholy masterpiece of epic proportions. It shows the inner workings of a self-obsessed artist who can't seem to be able to come to terms with himself. He can't seem to accept failure, despite all of his odds and circumstances indicating otherwise. He is a lone musical wanderer, drifting from one gig to the next, in hopes of earning an extra dollar. His success is fading, yet his pride tells him otherwise. Such a predictable side of musicians is brilliantly portrayed in such a lifelike manner in Oscar Isaac's performance.

The amount of humor in the film took me a little by surprise, as I felt the film would be much more overbearing than it turned out to be. On the contrary, some welcome moments provide brief respites from the travesties of Llewyn's every day life, simultaneously evoking the naturalistic human comedy in a way only the Coens can do. Nothing takes the viewer out of the tone of the story, but rather makes it a little easier to cope with.

The Coen brothers feel right at home with folk music, and their signature style mixes perfectly with this homespun homage to the genre as a whole. Oscar Isaac gives a marvelous musical performance, equally balanced with his already stellar screen presence. It's a somewhat rare form when an actor can prove to be equally proficient in music when his role requires it without the use of lip syncing. Isaac proves why he has a serious potential of being one of the best actors today, and I really can't wait to see where his career takes him.

Bleak and unforgiving, yet fascinating and arresting, Inside Llewyn Davis is a spellbinding portrayal of the human condition and the unrelenting need for change. It portrays a desperately desolate character in need of a serious overhaul in life, and his weaknesses in his overall character arc. The Coens' direction and the cinematography (complete with a nice smoky cover) mix together in perfect harmony, making this, in no uncertain terms, one of their best films. It's a masterfully weaved examination that I simply can't wait to revisit (I believe I'll love it even more on a rewatch).

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