“What are you doing?” – a graffiti in a bathroom stall.
It seems like everyone knows about the winning Palm d’Or movie from 2013 Cannes Film Festival, La Vie d’Adèle: Chapitres 1 & 2 a.k.a Blue is The Warmest Color. Yet not everyone is aware of the runner up, grand prix award winner, created by writer/director duo Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis. A film loosely inspired by a cultural disconnection in the 1960s New York music scene and the life of musician such as Dave Van Ronk.
Greenwich Village, New York. Early 60s. Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) just lost his singing partner to suicide. Unable to move on and find himself a new one, he continues his struggle as an artist by singing solo, but deemed unmarketable by the producers. He has no where to lives, couch-surfing from one acquaintances to the next. He impregnate Jean (Carey Mulligan), the wife of his blessedly oblivious best friend, Jim (Justin Timberlake) and promised he’d find her money to do an abortion. Llewyn finally reached that point where he felt he should just give up and return to his previous career as a merchant marine. Here’s a week in a life of one Llewyn Davis.
Llewyn Davis felt like a male counterpart of Frances Ha. They both have artistic aspiration for their lives, they share similar idealistic point of view of how they career should be, and they both endure a transformative psychological journeys. Llewyn Davis, like Frances Ha, is a fascinating character study. It is hard to like him at first, he was so unreliable, very cynical about everything, and seemed very self center at first, before i learned that he was so unsure of himself and basically trying to keep his hope intact even though it was crushed so many different times during the course of the film, leaving him on the very edge of desperation. He was just a tortured soul, lost and broken by so many psychological blow he must endure within a short amount of time.
Coen Brothers manage to split comedy and drama in perfect balance in Inside Llewyn Davis. Half dark comedy and half bleak drama, poignantly enhanced by it’s music. The music of the films (mostly coming from the songs performed in the film itself) become more than an embelishement to the film, instead it add poignant nuance to the film. With the lyrics that reflecting the situation in the film itself and made the emotion more pronounced. I’m not a fan of folk yet i enjoyed every piece of the music performed and become quite addicted to them, because they were the extension of Llewyn heartbreak, his struggle, and his despair. In fact the performances become the mark of important moments of the film. Oscar Isaac performance in the film is just transcendent. Beautifully melancholic, sensitive, heart-rending, and bittersweet as Llewyn Davis, both in singing and in acting.
I have not seen a lot of Coen Brothers film but i definitely in love with Inside Llewyn Davis. Marvelous performance all around by all the cast: from Oscar Isaac as the lead to Garett Hedlund who barely speaks yet not to be dismissed. Moody grey cinematography courtesy of Bruno Delbonnel (who previously worked with Coen Brothers on their Tuilleries segment in Paris Je T’aime) captured the mood of the film and become as poignant as Llewyn himself. Inside Llewyn Davis has definitely become a personal favorite of mine.
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (2013)
GENRE Drama, Comedy
DIRECTOR Joel Coen, Ethan Coen | PRODUCER Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen | WRITER Joel Coen, Ethan Coen | CINEMATOGRAPHER Bruno Delbonnel | EDITOR Joel Coen, Ethan Coen | STUDIO Mike Zoss Productions, Scott Rudin Productions, StudioCanal | DISTRIBUTOR CBS Films, StudioCanal | COUNTRY United States, France | RUNNING TIME 105 minutes | BUDGET $11 Million | RATING R for language and sexual references | RELEASE May 19, 2013 (Cannes)
STARRING Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake
DID YOU KNOW? The Coen Brothers add Ulysses the orange Cat as a last minute addition to the plot because they were concerned their movie had no plot. For me personally it become a very strong metaphor and elevate the film (especially with the beginning and the ending, and the obvious hint that ‘Llewyn is the cat’).
Plus, listen to this gorgeous rendition of Fare Thee Well by Oscar Isaac as Llewyn Davis.