As with any new Coen brothers film, I eagerly anticipated the release of Inside Llewyn Davis and the good things I’d heard from America before its UK release only added to my excitement. The fact that it’s taken close to a week to write something about the film though, might tell you something about my reaction to the movie. Unfortunately I left the cinema feeling disappointed. I’d go so far as to say that I didn’t really like or even enjoy the film and the last week or so has found me struggling to find a spin on it so that I could reward it with a favourable review. Alas I’m out of time so here’s what I think.
To put it bluntly, the film did little for me. I wasn’t entertained and was rarely amused. I didn’t get much from the story and disliked the central character. It left me feeling cold and uninterested and I never got on board with Llewyn, willing him on to succeed. Instead I just thought he was a bit of a dick. His misfortunes were often his own and his undoubted talent was clouded by his personality. Although the Coens’ attempt to present other characters even less favourably, I still wanted nothing to do with him and was only happy when he was singing.
Despite my lack of interest and enjoyment in regards to the plot, there are, as you’d expect, some wonderfully written lines of dialogue. Even when I’m not enjoying what the Coen brothers are writing about, I’m usually enjoying how they’re writing and this was the case here. In addition to this I adored the cinematography with its soft focus and bright, white light. The sets and costumes were nicely designed although I didn’t ever believe we were in the early 1960s. The acting, particularly that of Oscar Issac is excellent and finally the music was superb. Although my limit of folk knowledge ends at Bob Dylan’s greatest hits, I thought the songs were beautifully recorded and acted and liked that they were sung loudly from start to finish. It gave the film an almost musical feel. I’ve listened to the soundtrack since and it has made me remember the film more fondly than when I watched it.
Inside Llewyn Davis is a film that I feel merits a second watch, partly because I didn’t enjoy it on the first. It’s strong in so many areas but was for me let down by its BAFTA nominated script. It's in no way a poor film but it didn't make me long for the era or miss the characters. I felt disconnected from a deeply connected group of people, like Llewyn, unable to penetrate and reach a higher place.