By Jack Rico
The “1-4-0″: @InsideLlewyn is a heartbreak of a film that will perforate your emotional husk, courtesy of Latino actor Oscar Isaac and the Coen Brothers.
The Gist: 1960’s New York folk singer who lives in the Village can’t get a break as we see his life go from one debacle to another.
The Highlights: The cinematography, the brilliant representation of failure and defeat, the fantastic aggrieved performance from Oscar Isaac. I’m not a fan of depressing movies and this is one of them, but… there’s enough caustic humor here that manages to deflect some of the hard negative energy of the character and the film. The more in pain Isaac’s character is in, the more the audience laughs, a classic Coen Brothers mark. Deep inside the DNA of the film, the core is about the everyday struggle to succeed and the resentment that comes along when one doesn’t. One can become bitter, sensitive at constructive criticism, blind to others feelings and reticent and taciturn – all this has been captured magnificently by the Coen Bros. and Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis.
The Lowlights: Folk music and the ending. Folk music isn’t my cup of tea, but I was able to get passed that and listen to the lyrics of the broken Llewyn to understand how much of what he sang pushed the story forward. There was this one very catchy, drole, upbeat pop song though, “Please Mr. Kennedy” that has become embedded in my head, you should listen to it. Regarding the ending, and yes, there’s a bit of a spoiler coming up, the denouement is a repeat of the opening scene. Actually, it is an extended version. It came out of nowhere and it infuriated me because of the randomness of it and because there was no explanation for it. According to Isaac, there’s a musical metaphor to the repeated scene: “I think it’s like a folk song in particular, because generally in folk songs, it goes first verse, chorus, second verse, chorus, third verse, chorus and then back to the first verse again at the end. And there’s a deeper meaning when you come back to that first verse.”
Pay or Nay?: If you’re an indie moviegoer who searches for artistic films with a deeper human connection, than pay for it. If you’re an average moviegoer who usually likes blockbuster films and commercial fare, then you’ll hate it for its pace and its inherent unappealing characteristics. I personally enjoyed it because this film strips the celebrity gloss from musicians, you know, the struggling part that they never want to talk about? It brutally depicts the fight and loss of the dream.
Rated: R for language including some sexual references
Release Date: December 6, 2013
Screenplay: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Director(s): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake, F. Murray Abraham, Adam Driver, Ricardo Codero, Alex Karpovsky, Max Casella, Ethan Phillips, Stark Sands
Distributor: CBS Films
Film Genre: Musical Drama