Milo Paulus’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'm overjoyed to see the Coens explore something original that they clearly care passionately for as music is such a key part of their films. Inside Llewyn Davis has a profoundly sad and deeply cynical but honest thesis at the film's core. Not every talented artist makes the green. It's a film that not only makes you think about the origins of folk songs, where the frustrations of surviving feeds into the performance, but also all the great art the world has missed because they don't get exposure.
Inside Llewyn Davis is a brilliant film, plain and simple. It is nearly flawless filmmaking in every department they hand out Academy Awards for. A powerful, honest, true and tremendously original piece of work and one that stands out within the Coens' filmography. It is a thoughtful deconstruction of conventional storytelling. Plot threads start in the middle, some subplots don't even conclude. It deliberately goes nowhere, mirroring Llewyn Davis' rocky path in life. It's cinematic, but it feels true to life. I was so enamored by it all that this is the kind of movie I wanted two more hours of.
The opening performance by Oscar Isaac as Llewyn Davis playing 'Hang Me Oh Hang Me' really sets the tone for the film and his exceptional performance. Here is a man who seems to understand and relate to a song that is essentially about suffering and melancholia. The performance is very honest and he seems to be a man of integrity. As the film goes on, we get to observe Llewyn's behaviour and how he relates to people. We also get some references to his past which I think is critical to attempt why he is the way he is.
The smoke-shrouded cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel is basically a supporting character and thus integral to the story. The whole film is set in winter, were the hues are mainly cold and drab, you almost feel cold yourself watching it. You see the life get sucked out of Llewyn as he walks the streets, making a concerted effort to get his music out there. The cinematography really brings out the cold world he is in, and to me, how he sees the world.
Inside Llewyn Davis manages to stand alone as a unique tale of a man who's either a—as he put it himself—"self-absorbed asshole" or a supremely unlucky soul. The film makes no judgments of its own, and through its quirks and memorable dialogue, it stands as a supremely enjoyable (in a strange way), if not melancholy masterpiece. Very few filmmakers are able to squeeze so much out of what might seem so simple, but the Coens are the masters. This is practically a flawless film for what it is; a multi-layered character study. On the surface, Inside Llewyn Davis may seem like a basic story about a few days in the life of a troubled soul. Digging deeper brings forth a different result; a riveting portrayal of a man who's been calloused by bad luck and what's projected on to him by others.
Added to: Coen Brothers – [Ranked]
Now #28 on: My Top 50 of the 21st Century
Added to: Movies That Made Me Cry