There are some people in the movie industry whose films you just can never seem to like. There people like Adam Sandler who are understandably disliked because they are lazy and consistently put out subpar products. However for me, the person, or persons, whose films I can never seem to enjoy, no matter how hard I may try, are Joel and Ethan Coen. And their new film, “Inside Llewyn Davis” does not help change my opinion very much.
The film follows folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Issac) and the struggles he faces as he tries to make it in 1961 New York City. Carrey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake also star. The Coens wrote the script and direct.
The movie is just about a lot of depressed, angry and/or confused people struggling to make it in the world. There is no real joy to be found, and by the end of the movie Llewyn is no better off than he was at the beginning of the film. If you are going to make a movie that follows one main character, some sort of development, characterization or at the very least resolution is expected. But instead the Coens just travel from scene to scene in an effort to include as many of their trademark abstract characters as they can.
That is one of the reasons I don’t like the Coens. With the exception of “No Country for Old Men”, every one of their movies is about characters who have these quirky or dark personalities, a lot of which are unlike any person you would find in the real world. I just have never been a fan of their awkward and dry humor.
Not everything about the movie is negative, however. The main actor, Oscar Issac, is great. He is the only reason the film is watchable, to be honest. We aren’t sure if we should be rooting for Llewyn or not, because for as sympathetic as we feel for him, we also come to realize he may have dug his hole for himself, but Issac has a sense of charisma that is just too much to overlook.
But my favorite part of the film is John Goodman. In his ten minutes of screen time he has some very funny lines of dialogue and when he showed up I thought maybe the movie would get better but nope. They just abandon him and move on with the film; literally.
The music in the movie is very good; I have to give them that credit. I’m not the biggest folk song fan in the world but my foot started tapping whenever a character would pick up a guitar and start to play. All but one of the songs was recorded and sung live (Les Mis style) and it showed; it didn’t feel forced or fake.
I really cannot recommend “Inside Llewyn Davis”. One great performance and some catchy songs were not enough to overcome a dull script and a plot that doesn’t go anywhere. The highlights of Oscar Issac’s performance will be all over the place come Oscar season and you can look up the songs on iTunes or YouTube, so there is really no reason to see the movie.
I wish the Coens had broken their form and made a coherent, enjoyable movie about music, and instead of this depressing and gloomy picture. There is the patented Coen ending that will leave you confused and rethinking the movie, but unlike their other films, you don’t care if you figure out what it all means.
Critics Rating: 5/10