run time: 104 mins
considered: Drama, Music
director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Ethan Phillips, Robin Bartlett, Max Casella, Jerry Grayson, Jeanine Serralles, Adam Driver, Stark Sands, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Alex Karpovsky, Helen Hong, Bradley Mott
movie summary: The folk scene in New York City during the early 1960s was a very tough place to be in. Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a struggling folk singer whose partner Mike killed himself leaving Llewyn all alone to record and sell records. Llewyn has some minor attitude problems which has cost him several gigs and most of his friends. He bounces from house to house spending most of his nights on other people’s couches until his record, Inside Llewyn Davis, finally sells.
His professional life is on the rocks and so is his personal life. One of his best friends, Jean Berkley (Carey Mulligan), is pregnant with his child despite being in a relationship with another one of his friends Jim (Justin Timberlake). She absolutely hates his guts and is not bashful to call him every swear word in the book to his face. She demands he find $200 for her to have an abortion because there’s no way she’s have his baby. Llewyn has nobody to turn to so goes to his record producer who has yet to sell any of his records. He simply doesn’t believe in Llewyn singing anymore. In an attempt to get some rest and think of a way to get the cash he crashes the house of his two friends, the Gorfeins. They have an orange cat that manages to escape forcing Llewyn to search the neighborhood in the middle of winter to find it. When he rescues the cat he takes him across the city to Greenwich Village where he pawns the cat off to Jean so he can record a song with Jim for $200.
Things are looking up for Llewyn until he loses the cat again. He walks through the neighborhoods for hours until he comes across an orange cat and grabs it. The Gorfiens finally return home and invite him over for dinner to return the cat and have a warm place to stay. All heck breaks loose when Llewyn starts to perform a song that he used to sing with Mike and people begin to sing his partner’s part. Offended Mrs. Gorfiens storms off into the other room to find out the orange cat is not theirs. Llewyn leaves their place with absolutely no place to go after Jean kicked him out again. He goes to the doctor’s office to set up Jean’s abortion appointment to find out some shocking news about the last girl he brought to the clinic two years prior.
Llewyn’s life is in complete shambles at this point so he thinks a change of scenery will help him. He hitches a ride with jazz musician Roland Turner (John Goodman) and his friend Johnny Five (Garrett Hedlund) to Chicago. Once he gets there he hopes to perform for Bud Grossman (F. Murray Abraham) and land a steady gig. Roland spends the majority of his time sleeping in the back seat of the car because he is stoned out of his mind. Whenever he is awake he spends the time bashing Llewyn and his folk music songs. The trio stop several times so Roland can shoot up at a few rest stops. Things take around turn for the worse when they got pulled over and Johnny is arrested forcing Llewyn to walk the rest of the way to Chicago.
When he finally reaches the city and performs for Mr. Grossman, he is flat-out rejected as a solo artist and is told he needs to find another partner or give up his act. Frustrated with his inability to land a gig, he decides to retire as a singer and re-enlist in the merchant marine only to find out he’s missed his union dues and has to fork over the majority of his $200 to get back in good standing. He manages to find a ride back to New York City where he finds out his sister has thrown away all his licenses and certifications. Llewyn has hit an all-time low in life but refuses to give up. Jean, despite hating his guts, manages to get him a gig at a local club so he make a little bit of money. After the gig a “friend” is waiting for him outside to finally give him a taste of his own medicine.
my thoughts: I need to be very honest right up front… I KNOW the majority of you out there LOVE this movie. If that is you, my advice would be to stop reading this review right now. It took me a long time to finally get around to watching this movie and after sitting through an 1:44 of trash I understood why I waited so long, I hated this movie. This movie sucked and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, anywhere. I understand for those of you who kept reading that you just broke your screen by getting mad at me, but come on this movie was so pointless! There was no need for this story, there was not one second of this film that I wanted to get behind Oscar Isaac’s character Llewyn Davis. He may be a struggling artist but the majority of his problems are all self-inflicted and he totally deserves to be in the position he’s in by the poor choices he’s made.
Issac can sing, that was seriously only good parts of the movie (I mean besides the few hundred f-bombs). It was awesome to see him have a duet with Justin Timberlake and hold his own, but he’s signing folk songs which have always been a struggle to turn into huge hits. He is actually great as the lead character, he looks and dresses the part to perfection on top of having the right attitude to pull off the bitter angry guy who thinks the world is against him. On the flip side he is your typical foul-mouthed drunk struggling artist who always puts down other people when the opportunity arises. Like I mentioned in the previous paragraph nothing about his character had me rooting for him to overcome these problems and obstacles to finally get out of his rut. I really didn’t care what happened to him.
Other roles in the film were hit and miss by Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, and John Goodman. Timberlake wasn’t give much screen time to sing despite the fact he’s the fifth name down on the poster. Mulligan has far more screen time but spends the majority of that upset and cursing which complete destroys her good girl persona that she has had in other movies. Like Llewyn she is very bitter and finds herself in a very unwanted position because of her poor decisions. No pity from me even when she arranges the gig for Llewyn at the end. The final miss for me was John Goodman’s drug addicted character. He’s in the story for about 20 minutes and spend 19 minutes passed out. His character is so irreverent that he is written off the story in a ditched car somewhere on the way to Chicago. These characters all deserved better situations even though the audiences ate up everything they did.
my final thoughts: If you made it this far then you know I disliked this movie. Since it recently came onto Canadian Netflix a few weeks back I would advise you to skip it at all costs. I managed to survive the 1:44 and only wrote this review to voice my displeasure with this film, one that is highly regarded as a top five movie from 2013. In the end, the story wasn’t for me and it may not be for you either, then again I love Twilight and many of you don’t. That’s the greatest thing about movies, we can all agree to disagree.
my star rating: 2 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 94% out 100%
rogerebert.com: 4 out 4
2 thoughts on “Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)”
Good review Ryan. I can see why so many people have a problem with this. I don’t, and in a way, have come to like it even more than I originally did before. But that’s just me. I’m weird.
Thanks Dan, I never thought you were weird. That movie on the other hand was kinda weird. I know you loved it and thought back to your review when I watched it and how you considered it a favourite of 2013. I’m just sorry we didn’t see eye to eye with that one. At least we can still be friends! haha.