Sunday, December 8, 2013

Inside Llewyn Davis

Co-Writers/Co-Directors Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis is an exploration of the Greenwich Village folk singer scene in 1961, focusing on a week in the life of one of them.

First off, Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel brings out images of the era with his usual mastery, Production Designer Jess Gonchor and Art Director Deboreh Jensen provide a true feeling of the time and Costume Designer Mary Zohphres is spot-on with the clothing.  Altogether, we’re given a true picture of the early-‘60s.  And, T-Bone Burnett's Music Production is sterling, providing the sound of the era.
Oscar Isaac as Llewyn, along with Cary Mulligan and Justin Timberlake as his friends, are admirably directed by the Coens and all turn in admirable performances. 

The question I have is, “Why?”  Why this lame story and what is it about?  

We’re treated to a talented, but stupid character, who, other than having a good voice, does little to make us care about him. 
And, what trials is he put through?  Leaving the apartment of friends, who let him sleep over, their cat escapes.  While catching it, Llewyn is locked out.  Instead of going to the Superintendent of the  building that has a live elevator operator, he ends up carrying the cat with him and foisting it on his friends and, then, allows it to escape again.  This is the stuff of a television sitcom, not a Coen movie as I’ve known them.

Llewyn bounces through several other nonsensical scenes to further prove he’s a loser until, finally, a scene that starts the film is repeated as its ending.  The point?  It’s beyond me.  Are we to think he’s caught in loop of repeating idiocy.  Has the film been a flashback?  Or, did the Coens just give up on an ending to their story or realize they had none?

What amazes me is the response of Critics and Reviewers, who see no problem here and are pouring on the accolades.  It reminds me of last year’s The Master disaster (reviewed 9/16/12).  I guess you can fool some of the people all of the time.

I must say, the theater was full and the audience was polite, i.e., no texting was happening.  Perhaps, however, they were as stupefied as I was.  At one point in the film, a policeman taps on the car window of the dozing Llewyn.  I was thankful to the character as the act brought me out of my stupor.  

 At one point, F. Murray Abraham as a music manager comments after Llewyn's audition, "I don't see much money here."  I didn't see much excitement here. And, I noticed there was no applause at the end by anyone in the audience. 

If you liked The Master, you’ll probably drink the Kool-Aid on this one, but, in all good conscience, I can’t give Inside Llewyn Davis more than a 3 out of 5.

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