Inside Llewyn Davis ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Oh, oh wow, I didn't expect this to slide into my top 10 of the present decade and turn out to be easily my favorite Coens film.

It's hard to decide where to begin in describing a movie like INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, since not much actually happens in terms of moving the plot forward--and that's the point. Llewyn is stuck where he is, and everybody wants to help him, but nobody wants to help him be self-sufficient. Of course this is only one of many subtly or less-subtly indicated awful things that happen to Llewyn in the film's timeframe of just a few days, and through it all, there isn't much happiness found in the movie. This is because Llewyn never has much of a reason to be happy, and it would ring false in a movie like this if he did.

There's a critical line in here from F. Murray Abraham as Bud Grossman, referring to a different folk singer, a conventional golden-boy: "yeah, he's a good kid; he *connects* with people." Bud Grossman very plainly represents the attitudes of society in general: driven by making profits for himself, valuing people in relation to other people, and clinging to conventional wisdom of "what sells." Llewyn fits no favorable judgment by these standards--he does not "connect with people"--which is why Llewyn is increasingly an outcast; and as he becomes more of an outcast, he becomes more of an asshole and more of a person who alienates people rather than connects with them, and I'm not gonna lie here, this hit me really fucking hard. This isn't just a slice-of-life film set in the early 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene, no, this is a metaphor for life in modern society, centered on the somewhat-quintessential social outcast, beaten down so many times that he's numb, and all he can do is pick himself back up and move on to the next sure-to-go-wrong attempt to make or do something more worthwhile.

In all, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS is simply a masterpiece of tragicomedy.