Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis


Of this year's Oscar contenders, there was no film that I was looking forward to more than Inside Llewyn Davis. Not only am I a huge Coen brothers fan, but I am also a huge fan of folk music, which makes a movie about a folk-singer quite enticing. Honestly, I didn't need much more to get excited about the film. I was just ecstatic that Inside Llewyn Davis had finally made its way to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. You better believe I hurried my butt to the theater...

Like every Coen-made film, Inside Llewyn Davis featured a lot of quirky dialogue that accented the direct storyline. There wasn't a need for a super complex storyline, but, as the story progressed, it became very easy to predict what would happen to Llewyn, because nothing good ever happened to him. I would have preferred a bit more excitement and wonder, as the story progressed. Additionally, Llewyn Davis' tendency to lack any positive life events cut into the effectiveness of the quirky/fun moments and, at times, just sucked the joy right out of the theater. Was I interested in the film?... Yes, but I just didn't have that "wow, I never could have thought up this story" feeling that I love. However, I did enjoy the music, which was well-placed and just good music. If you listened to my favorite Pandora channel, the songs from this film would likely pop up at some point. I know that's more of a personal bias than criticism, but I can't help sharing my musical preferences!

While Oscar Isaac was great as Llewyn Davis, the rest of the cast really brought that Coen brothers feel to the movie. Honestly, I don't think I could possibly remember all of the great characters that spent just a touch of time on screen, but I will try to highlight a few of my favorites in the positives section below. All around, however, the acting was great.

The only character that I remember despising was Garrett Hedlund's Johnny Five, who said very little and contributed even less to the story. Additionally, I didn't really care for Jeanine Serralles, who played Llewyn's sister, Joy. Unlike Hedlund's, her character was great, but I thought she should have had a larger role.

My favorite performance and character were both merited by Adam Driver and his simply entertaining Al Cody. Not only did he provide some laughs, but his character helped drive the story in a way that I was not quite expecting. Another performance that I loved (although the character was rather pointless) was that of Stark Sands, who played a robotic, hick, soldier that was somehow able to sing pretty darn good. His character was one of the most memorable of the entire film. In addition to those two great male performances, the funniest performance was a result of the amazing work of Sylvia Kauders, who cracked me up as the very random recording-studio secretary, Ginny. She brought out that great Coen brothers humor that I love so very dearly! I was also impressed with Carey Mulligan, who I usually don't care for very much. Also, finally, one more shout out to Oscar Isaac for a great performance in the lead role. Ok... I'm done!

There seems to be a pattern developing with these 2013 Oscar-contending dramas, as the acting continues to carry the load, with the stories lacking in excitement and originality. I may have been a bit too critical of Inside Llewyn Davis, but I did really enjoy it. I just wanted it to be waaaay better! If you like good music, you should definitely check out the soundtrack for the film. It won't ruin the film for you either; it's just good music! (I just used a semicolon, guys... mark it down!) While it wasn't my favorite Coen brothers film or my favorite film of 2013, Inside Llewyn Davis was entertaining, and, if you love the Coen brothers like me (few do), you are sure to enjoy their latest work. Lastly, let's hope that Oscar Isaac is able to get an Oscar nom in the wee hours of tomorrow morning! He deserves it! I give Inside Llewyn Davis 3.45 out of 5 stars.


  1. I love the Coen brothers as well but for some reason could muster a desire to see Inside Llewyn Davis. Sounds like it classic Coens which can't be a bad thing, good review man.

    1. If you love the Coens, you will like it... No doubt!

  2. Nice review, Tanner. The performances were indeed great, but in addition to that, this is one that's probably sat the best with me of all the big Oscar contenders I recently got around to, and certainly the one that's lingered in my head the longest thus far (not to mention the music, which has been lingering around as well!). But something about this story just kinda strikes a nerve, more so in hindsight, but definitely an intriguing picture.

    1. I agree that it get's better with thought, and I actually want to watch it again (as is the case with most Coen films). However, I saw Her the day before, and that is the film that I can't get off my mind. Glad to hear someone appreciates the music, though! I actually downloaded Fare Thee Well like two months ago... Great song!

  3. Good review Tanner. The Coens tap into this idea that life, nor do your career, always pan-out to go exactly the way you had initially planned it to being. Sometimes, it just ends with a whimper and that's all there is to it. Sort of sad, but still very true and real.

    1. Thanks! Certainly a good two hours of self reflection... I love anything the Coens touch.