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Inside Llewyn Davis
Genre Music
 
Review:

Inside Llewyn Davis is a Coen brothers film that captures the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961 through the eyes of a fictional character, who was inspired by the memoirs and music of Dave Van Ronk. This beautifully shot music drama truly takes us there as we experience a week in the life of a struggling folk singer. This Coen brothers film resonates most strongly with A Serious Man, delivering intelligent New York drama on the back of soul-searching music and cinematography that is so in tune with the era that each shot feels like it could have been an album cover from the age.

The down-on-his-luck Llewyn Davis takes life as it comes, moving from couch to couch, and playing his uncompromising and soulful one man show to pay the most urgent bills first. We adventure with the folk musician, whose guitar, winter coat and talents are what push him to pursue the elusive career he envisages for himself. On the way, we're introduced to a number of interesting characters as Llewyn bounces off the goodwill of friends and acquaintances.

He's a rambling man, tuning into the time that set the platform for names like Bob Dylan, Rodriguez and Cat Stevens. Oscar Isaac, best known for Drive, is Llewyn Davis... who believes his big break is just around the corner. He's a stray cat, appearing on one doorstep before moving onto another, with his single-minded passion keeping him focused and unwilling to bend. Isaac captures the musician's stubborn, devil may care attitude, tempering this with the obligated humility of his situation.

He's supported by Carey Mulligan in one of her best performances to date as a friend in a complicated relationship. Justin Timberlake gets about as goodie-two-shoes as they come with a chipper attitude and one or two foot-tapping folk numbers. John Goodman adds his presence as one of the film's most eccentric characters, while Garrett Hedlund echoes the same rebellion from his role in the Jack Kerouac inspired film On the Road. Inside Llewyn Davis isn't about stars though, and while they add considerable weight to their characters, it's about the spirit of the music and not selling out.

While each "album cover" glides across the screen, we're given an insightful snapshot of the melancholic life and times of Llewyn Davis. The film has a somber tone, one that offers a glimpse of hope and some good chuckles, yet finds itself returning to the hauntingly sad, soulful and harmonious folk music. Llewyn's nomadic tom cat misadventures certainly add some spice and comedy to the drama, transplanting us in an era wonderfully composed by excellent production values.

The sharp-witted writing gives Inside Llewyn Davis a sense of spontaneity and realism, driving the character against the elements, and finding the proverbial fork in the road most unforgiving. It's entertaining, it's funny, it's melancholic and it's a film that will appeal to anyone with an interest in Jack Kerouac's version of the '60s, folk music or New York for that matter. Enjoy Inside Llewyn Davis for its heartfelt performances, soulful music, haunting visuals, intelligent script and time capsule of the life and times.

The bottom line: Alive

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