Noah Thompson’s review published on Letterboxd:
“If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it's a folk song.” - Llewyn Davis
Yesterday I came to the realization that the Coen brothers are alongside Quentin Tarantino, Don Hertzfeldt, and Kevin Smith as my favorite filmmakers. Maybe they’re above all three of those guys. Either way, I thought I’d take the time to revisit what I considered my favorite film of theirs, Inside Llewyn Davis. As I popped the disc into my PS4, I came to another realization. I had only ever seen this film once before. When it was in theaters four years ago. So, I was anxious about it holding up. Well, not only did it hold up, but it was even better with this second viewing. A perfect film about an imperfect man.
Inside Llewyn Davis hits all the points you should expect a film, especially a Coen brothers film, to hit. The film can make you laugh, admire its beauty, hate its guts, and give you a lump in your throat. Akin to a film like Fallen Angels, you will feel every human emotion at some point during its runtime. This is thanks to some masterful writing from the Coens. It’s one of the most painfully bittersweet films I think I’ve ever seen. And I love me a good bittersweet film.
Alongside the writing, the characters and performances are all standouts. Everyone oozes with personality and depth, no matter what that personality may be. The side characters are all great (Adam Driver is a fucking legend), but the crowning achievement of the film is of course Oscar Isaac as Llewyn Davis.
The Coens manage to craft a character that is completely unlikable yet somehow sympathetic. He’s a piece of garbage sometimes, but it doesn’t seem like it’s of his own volition. If life is a card game, he just keeps getting handed shitty decks. The character of Llewyn is one that should be studied by anyone who’s an aspiring artist. Really, the whole film should be experienced by anyone with a love for expression and folk music. (Also, the cat got snubbed for an Oscar nomination.)
On that note, can we talk about the music? Holy shit. Why did I not include this on my list of favorite film soundtracks? (It has since been updated, luckily.) It’s so incredibly good. From the beautiful Fare Thee Well, to the hilarious Please Mr. Kennedy, to the tragic Hang Me, Oh Hang Me and The Death Of Queen Jane. It again hits all emotional notes. After I’m done with this review, I’m gonna chill out and listen to all of the music again.
I hate to make it seem like I’m praising a lot of films that I’m watching recently, but I can’t help it. I admittedly try to pick great films to watch whenever I can, and when it comes to dramadies (my favorite film genre), Inside Llewyn Davis is about as great as they come. Not an easy watch by any means, but one that is required viewing for the film buff and artist inside all of us.
(One last note, I love how this film puts out the effort to show that Llewyn still has a long ways to go as a person. He learns from some of his mistakes, but not all of them. Perhaps he’s not doomed to a horrid life after all. It’s great to see a film that realizes not all of your problems can be solved and wrapped up in a pretty bow once the credits roll. Again, genius. Pure genius. Coens, I love you, you magnificent bastards.)