Inside Llewyn Davis Review: The Coen Brothers’ Sad Tune

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The Coen brothers have pretty much redefined the dark comedy over the past several decades, and Inside Llewyn Davis may be their darkest yet.

Following a folk singer in the early 1960s trying to make it big in Greenwich Village, New York City, this film shows something that a lot of talented artists unfortunately do: start and end in the same place. One could argue that it doesn’t necessarily make for the most rewarding film, and one would be right, but this is perhaps one of the most interesting and personal films the directing duo has made to date.

The titular Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) has a lovely voice. The film allows him to have lengthy performances throughout the anecdotal nature of the narrative. He’s a starving artist, moving from couch to couch and pissing those couches’ owners off left and right. The film is very much about the people he’s meeting and the way they perceive his expressions.

At that rate, Inside Llewyn Davis is very effective. We get great turns from Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, and Adam Driver at various points throughout Llewyn’s journey, all while getting what the title promises.

By the end of the film, we know and understand Llewyn Davis. But he really doesn’t go anywhere. That is sort of the point, but an ending that abrupt is difficult to pull off and is where the film stumbles the most. The Coens did it pretty flawlessly in No Country for Old Men, but this starving artist story needed a little more closure, whether it meant he lived out his dream or not.

We could have benefitted from another couple minutes with these characters just to sell the points that the Coens are trying to make with this film. But still, we got an always entertaining week-in-the-life-of with lots of colorful characters and a dark comedic tone. What more can you ask from a Coen brothers film? Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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