Thursday, December 26, 2013

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)- Movie Review by Sean Wu

There was a poll on Letterboxd in November, asking if you were to erase either Inside Llewyn Davis or The Wolf of Wall Street off the face of the Earth, which one would you pick? Consensus had it with Inside Llewyn Davis would be mystery while Scorsese's latest being history. I picked to erase The Wolf of Wall Street, a film that I was much more excited for, but I already knew that Inside Llewyn Davis was a great film, and at the time, The Wolf of Wall Street was not even complete. Now after seeing Inside Llewyn Davis, I can say that it might be the best film of the year, and maybe even the best film that the Coen brothers have ever done.

The reception after the Cannes premiere was allegedly rapturous, and oh how I would have loved to be there. To be in the audience, surprised by the constant success of the Coens and loving every minute of this quirky film. The movie follows a folk singer Llewyn Davis, crawling his way to fame in the New York City folk music scene in 1961. Llewyn is portrayed by character actor Oscar Isaac, and here's hoping that this role is a breakthrough, because he is EXCELLENT.

Oscar Isaac, who I first saw in Drive, is directed brilliantly by the Coens. His singing is rich and dry, and his performance is even better: his character is horribly unlikable, but Isaac makes the story of Llewyn effortlessly watchable because of his charisma and his vocal talent. Appearing by his side is Carey Mulligan as the popular Jean and Justin Timberlake as her husband Jim. 

What makes this movie so unique is how the plot is structured: there really is no plot. You, the viewer, are thrown in the middle of Davis' developing career, as he is beaten around by others and by life itself. It's all about the characters he encounters in this short time that you see him, and by god are these guys funny. John Goodman shines as the obese and mysterious Roland Turner, who just can't stop telling insulting stories relating to Llewyn, and Adam Driver has a great scene as recording artist Al Cody. 

There's more to Davis than the story and characters, and that's the behind-the-scenes work. T-Bone Burnett's musical selection is stunning, so much so that every song brought a smile to my face. The songs of the time click beautifully into place amongst the movie. Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel is soft and warm, and the the 1960's time period is captured brilliantly.

Honestly, I can't praise the film more than I have. It is the Coen's most rewarding work, and it maybe to soon to tell, but it might be their best. I hope only the best for Oscar Isaac, and cannot wait to see what Joel and Ethan Coen have up their sleeves.

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