03 February 2014

I Wouldn't Want To Be "Inside Llewyn Davis"

Forlorn, was LaDonna's one-word description. Bleak interspersed with dark--very dark--humor is my summary of the latest film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, "Inside Llewyn Davis." The eponymous Llewyn Davis is a wannabe folk singer who is trying to make it in the Greenwich Village scene as a solo act  after the other half of the duo, Mike Davis, commits suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge.

It's hard to tell whether fate or Llewyn himself is his nemesis but I'd vote for Llewyn as Llewyn's worst enemy. The film is lightened both by the emotional distance it keeps from one Llewyn-inspired disaster after another and the hilarious small roles played John Goodman, Adam Driver, and Garrett Hedlund. And who know that Justin Timberlake could play anyone other than Justin Timberlake?

Some of those who lived in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s criticize the film for historical inaccuracies but here, as with "Saving Mr. Banks" we're not seeing a documentary but the Coen Brothers' vision of life of the inside of an everyman who cannot escape himself. Unlike "Saving Mr. Banks," however, there's no happy ending for Llewyn Davis. Ending where the film began, with a beatdown by the husband of a performer he heckled, the film ends with a simple "au revoir" from Llewyn's lips. No hope but in the moments of humor (unseen by Llewyn) in a life hovering between disaster and despair.

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