#REVIEW: “INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS”
The Track Record certainly has been established for brilliant and celebrated Director/Writer Duo, The Coen Brothers. Burn After Reading, True Grit, A Serious Man and No Country for Old Men firmly are imprinted in the recent memory of the Academy and Cinema Lovers. Their latest offering Inside Llewyn Davis, is a dense and multi-layered Musical Journey to New York’s Folk Music Scene in the ’50s, told through the eyes of a charismatic, tough-luck Musician. Don’t look at it as a Film about Folk Music or even a Musical for that matter. Without a false sense of preachiness that often is seen in Holiday releases, there is plenty to embrace about this non-stop Journey to finding one’s place in the World when all seems lost.
After the death of his Singing Partner Mike Timlin, Folk Singer/Songwriter Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is struggling to establish himself as a Solo Act. Unable to make ends meet financially and without a Royalty Cheque on the way, we see Llewyn couch-surf, asking favours of his local Scenester Friends, including the generosity of Jim (Justin Timberlake), Al (Adam Driver) and Jean (Carey Mulligan) – the latter who may or may not be carrying his Child. Already hanging by a thin thread and desperate for another break, he hitchhikes out to Chicago to audition for powerful Manager and Club Owner, Bud Grossman (F. Murray Abraham) and along the way encounters Jazz Musician Roland Turner (John Goodman) and his Caretaker Johnny Five (Garrett Hedlund). Along the way we are transported to another place and time, deep into the World of the Beatnik Culture and the psyche of a Man of unquestionable and uncompromising talent, trying to find himself after reaching a Crossroads in his life.
If you’ve never heard of Oscar Isaac before Inside Llewyn Davis, then here is your grand introduction the remarkably talented Juilliard-trained Actor/Singer. He brings to the Role an infectious cynicism and self-absorption that becomes almost impossible not to root for. The Musical Numbers, particularly a chilling rendition of The Death of Queen Jane sung in Isaac‘s resonant Baritone, will having you gazing into the future at an Oscar nod. Although, seen far too briefly, Carey Mulligan‘s Jean is mean, although largely compassionate; both she and Isaac ignite the screen despite a perpetually overcast backdrop. Goodman, who collaborates with the Coen Brothers a sixth time, unforgettable as the cane-poking Roland, frail physically but overwhelmingly commanding. The Music overseen by T Bone Burnett is soothingly hypnotic despite Llweyn‘s internal turmoil.
Mongrel Media releases the deservedly-buzzed Inside Llewyn Davis on Friday, October 20, 2013.