Film Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

I’ve always been a big fan of the Coen Brothers but I can never really explain why properly. Essentially they make deep, dark movies that explore various different aspects of the human character, the journey of life, usually intertwined with a mixture of seriousness and comedy.

The thing is though, while you can usually name lots of Coen Brothers films – A Serious Man, Barton Fink, O Brother Where Art Though? for instance, or even the remakes of True Grit or The Ladykillers, I always end up with the same feeling about their films – I like them but I never quite love them.

Inside Llewyn Davis is, annoyingly, exactly the same.

From the point of view of a piece of cinematic film making it is brilliant. Film Studies students should watch it, if only for a technical class in the art of taking a theme and using the tools available to you to grab your audience and immerse them in the subject and the emotions you want them to feel.

The thing with the film is that the ideas in play never really confuse you, but they are never really answered either. There is just enough information to allow you to form your own ideas, your own opinions but they never stop you and say “that’s wrong”. There are obviously messages within the film; you can tell the Coen Brothers, as always, started with an idea to portray a thought. They wanted to take you on a journey, they wanted to represent different aspects, the whole cause and effect, of human existent, and they achieve it but they are fully aware that the message you take, the way you interrupt a character or a scene may not be how they saw it, but they don’t mind.

It feels a lot like a film that asks you questions, not to teach, or even get answers, but simply to start a debate. Whether it’s the overall use of a cold hued colour palette to reinforce the lack of warmth in Llewyn’s life, or a cat that which constantly attempts to, and usually succeeds in, breaking free, but cannot be let go by Llewyn, representing his inability to move on and accept the parts of his life he is no longer in control of, or even the fleeting glimpses into his relationships with the characters as the plot progresses and the distance from normality this creates; I am sure that for everyone who agrees with my views there are equal numbers who would disagree and that is exactly what this film is trying to do.

It really is one of those films that I am convinced the more you watch, the more of those brilliant, subtle little questions and reflections you’ll pick up on and the better and better, and more opinionated this film will become.

That doesn’t mean this film doesn’t have problems. And sadly, those problems lies mainly in the songs. They just really aren’t very good. It’s such a shame that the film writes its final conclusions through the introduction of a Bob Dylan number, and it’s at that exact moment you realise just how poor the rest of the music in the film is. You slightly wonder, whether that is the point though.

Don’t let Inside Llywen Davis pass you by though. Just go in with your eyes open, because like most Coen Brothers films, it’s not straight forward, it’s not simple. It’s a technical piece of stunning filmmaking. But it’s filmmaking that takes as much pleasure in listening to what you have to say as it does about telling you it’s own opinions and views.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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