Inside Llewyn Davis ★★★★★

The Gaslight Cafe, 1961.


Isaac's got the type of voice that instantly tilts necks and widens eyes in that sort of lusty but love-struck type of way, he moves around Greenwich Village like a blue whale in a great enclosed lake, big and beautiful and inexhaustible, but beaten into submission by his futile environment, so best just to swim and swim and swim and hope. Though he's not the only whale trapped in a lake, everyone's in their own lake, their own head, their own dream, their own bitter pool of insignificance with their eyes faithfully transfixed on the luminescent aether where surely surely surely lay the meaning to all this meandering madness. "What are you doing?"


I'm later to the party than those guys that aim to show up at 3am when the party is assuredly "kicking off" but all that waiting and toiling and turning over in my sleep was continuously building into a palpable hype that somehow manifested into the actual experience. It was exactly what I wanted and what I wanted was this. In this never-dissonant fluidity the only complaint I could feasibly level is the fact that it isn't over six hours long, much like, you know, every other film I've taken a liking to. "Got a couch?"


Llewyn and his cat(s) navigate the endearingly vexatious environment of couches and trains, Ulysses riding his shoulder as if his side-car, tongue and eyelids blasting against the wind as the nomadic Llewyn is flung across the land of snow and streetlights, hit like a tennis ball that wants nothing more than to be a strangely shaped rugby ball, so that when he hits the ground he'll shoot off in an unknown and unpredictable direction for once. Ulysses's performance is up their with the Newman's and Bogart's, his look of absolute wonder and yearning and wistfulness as the train storms through its stations with no intent to stop is pretty much my favorite scene out of the whole thing, Ulysses seemingly becoming instantaneously upset at the unstoppable pandemonium of life barrelling by so impossibly fast and being overcome with a need to stop it. They make quite the formidable team, in this cold and enticing realm of hallways that are barely wide enough to fit a single persons stride and where everyone's got talent but nobody wants to buy it, a team or duo or friend is just about exactly what a person needs to keep it all going. The chimeras that the musicians and artists alike lurch towards are merely the shoddily placed shrubbery that cover up a steep pitfall into a mass of pointy deathly spikes. It's a little careerist, it's a little square, it's a little sad, but it just is. "I thought I just needed a nights sleep but it's more than that."


Lost in a wintry world of acoustic vibrancy and winter coats Llewyn traipses from floor to floor and dead-end gig to dead-end gig whilst all the time his environment shakes and explodes with fulmination, as if each time the lightning strikes through the perpetually ongoing storm outside Llewyn is in a different position, sometimes tilted a little closer to the microphone, sometimes in a completely different city and landscape and time, sometimes with a different cat. But never in the same spot. Au revoir.

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