mattmav45’s review published on Letterboxd:
Simply a damn good film.
There's a scene in this film in which Lleweyn travels to Chicago in hopes of impressing a music producer. The producer asks him to play a song, Lleweyn puts his heart and soul into the performance, and the producer remarks that he simply doesn't see any money in Lleweyn's product. This the basic dilemma facing any serious artist. Specifically, do you pour your heart, soul, and livelihood into your career while simultaneously remaining true to your sound, or do you sell out in hopes of making it big?
Set in 1961, Lleweyn Davis is a folk singer based out of New York's Greenwitch Village. His partner, Mike Timlin, has recently committed suicide, driving Lleweyn to release his first solo album. Problem is, the album isn't doing well, and Lleweyn is living the life of a damn vagrant, bouncing from couch to couch of his friends' modest abodes. What follows is a character study centered on Lleweyn that works simultaneously as a mediation on the trials and tribulations of the modern artist.
An interesting aspect of this film is that the viewing doesn't work directly as a result of the character of Lleweyn Davis. The character, and the ruminations tied to said character, are broad and somewhat impersonal in nature. However, the viewing is able to work damn well on a different level. Specifically, the viewing finds power in its portrayal of the modern day artist, along with all dynamics and musings inherent to said artist.
I begin my run through the Coen filmography exactly four months prior to this final viewing last night. I've purposely skipped the more disposable offerings, and I suppose at this point in time it's time for a brief period of reflection. Off the top of my head, it's hard to think of any comparable modern directors who have tackled on such a variety of genres with similar success. Most importantly, they manage to inject their own spice and personality into every film they make, and have cemented themselves as being superior and important voices in cinema.
Dark, powerful, and insightful with bits of dark humor sprinkled in throughout. In other words, it's a Coen viewing.