“MOST OF US HAVE GROWN UP… “
Most of us have grown up with the idea that a story starts, goes its full length, and then ends with clear-cut resolution. Either we come away from the story surely knowing just what the tale was all about and we expect to get a sense that either good prevails, or bad cannot be stopped. The effect of common stories is to make us feel that the world has true meaning that stands us in pretty good stead.
“IT IS AN ODYSSEY… “
But as we all know, life is not always that clear to understand. Often we are only able to think of the experience. We get up, go to jobs, do things, are judged by other folks, and after many years, retire, and ask, “What happened?” That is pretty much how “INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS” feels. It is an odyssey of a folk singer in the early sixties in and around New York’s Greenwich Village.
“LLEWYN HAS TALENT BUT… “
Llewyn has talent but brings a lot of wrath down upon himself. He impregnates another fellow’s girl, takes out his anger of his song partner’s suicide on a woman who– with her professor-husband–feeds him a warm meal- and in the past has given him a bed and place to stay -something he constantly seeks from others each night, since he has no lasting place of his own.
“HERE’S A GUY WHO LAMENTS… “
Here’s a guy who laments his fate, bewails his lack of being able to support himself with his guitar-playing and folk singing. Oscar Isaac does a great job playing this role. Other key folks in this movie are Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake. The music is first-rate with the sound track creatively managed by the well-known T. Bone Burnett. John Goodman plays a has-been musician who pours additional vitriol on poor Llewyn’s head.
“HE KEEPS ON KEEPING ON… “
Everywhere he goes–like a modern Ulysses– Llewyn’s faced with grim obstacles. And yet, like that hero, he keeps on keeping on. Though at the end he’s still failing– Llewyn does have a new understanding that he, himself, might be the preventer– that maybe he’s the one who’s sabotaged success up to this point.
THERE’S A MAN “INSIDE” HIM
… A man strikes him in an alley after two good performances. Who is this man? There’s a strong clue– after that first beating– that this man’s “inside” him. After the fierce facial punches (besides a stiff groin kick) I saw no evidence of this onslaught across his face. What’s the meaning there? You’ll wonder yourself if you see the film; and I strongly recommend that you do.
“INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS” might well change your life in the way you think about your own daily experience. Just learning to commemorate our own experience in life is maybe as close to meaning as we can get. I liked this film for its detailed attempt to show us the hard life a singer bears; and whether he succeeds or not may just depend on what goes on inside his head as well as what works when the good “inside” comes out. The Coens show that like no one else. This is a movie you’ll think about long after. Wholeheartedly, it gets an EIGHT.