Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Case for Inside the 60s

Inside Llewyn Davis is the latest Coen Brothers film.  It hasn't been received with quite the praise of some of their other work, but as a Coen film, and even knowing that Justin Timberlake is in there and the touch of death he seems to have on films, I was keen to give this one a shot.

Oscar Isaac stars as Davis, and despite the fact the character is incredibly annoying, the actor himself is amazing.  The songs all come across as pre-recorded (which is a major shame) but it is quite apparent that the man is a talented singer and guitar player, and he can portray the fairly unlikeable Davis remarkably and irritatingly well.

Carey Mulligan also gets the chance to show how much she can sing (and swear) as Jean, half of Jim and Jean with the multi talented Justine Timberlake.  Adam Driver, "the" boyfriend in Girls, also sings a little as Al Cody, and some familiar faces (John Goodman, Ethan Phillips and a lot of others) show up in smaller supporting roles, some more memorable than others.

The story concerns a 60s folk singer trying to make it on his own after his partner passes away.  However, talented as the folk singer may be, Davis is trying to break into a scene that has not yet been painted: Bob Dylan has not yet arrived, and folk singing is mainly relegated to small dusty bars.  Davis totally believes in his destiny to be a major star, though, and so devotes himself completely to his craft, avoiding jobs, relationships or posessoins that might slow him down.  He also happens to be a bit of an ar$ehole, so his existence is a fairly lonely one.

The film follows a couple of days in his life, as he follows the beatnik trail to Chicago and then back again, finding minor successes and some pretty major failures along the way.  Of course, there are twists along the way, but while all of these are dealt with, not all of them are acted upon (if I can be very obtuse about them all), which I found refreshing.  One of the twists had the person next to me inhaling sharply as every minor point was slowly and painfully revealed, so much so, I was either going to have to stab her for being so clueless and annoying ot else call a Doctor if she hyperventilated.

Anyway, annoying fellow cinema-goers aside, the film is amazingly well put together with some great songs, but overall is not as engrossing and engaging as some other Coen films.  It could be that the main character is just too hard to empathise with (he is nigh on impossible to like to be sure), and so it stopped me from really getting into what was going on, and there is no other character that we really learn that much about or follow with anything approaching regularity.

So, while a finely crafted film with some amazing performances, I had to say I was a little underwhelmed by the film, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  And the person next to me made it all the way to the end without fainting.

Verdict: Inside Llewyn Davis is a good film, solid all around one could say, with amazing actors giving incredible performances in a beautifully realised world, but it lacks a certain oomph to make it highly memorable.  7 harmonicas out of 10.

No comments: