Film Review: INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

Written and Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Oscar Issac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Adam Driver

The Coen Brothers, for my money, have the strongest writing and directorial credits in the history of U.S. movies. Yes, there have been a few misses: BURN AFTER READING, THE LADYKILLERS and one or two more. But films like TRUE GRIT, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, A SERIOUS MAN, FARGO, BLOOD SIMPLE and OH BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU far outnumber their few missteps. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS may be their finest achievement. And this, from a viewer who is not particularly fond of folk music. When friends told me, “go for the music,” I thought I was in trouble. But instead I found a film that avoided every cliché that lesser directors would have rested the story on.

The movie covers about a week in the life of a struggling folk singer, Llewyn Davis. He has lost his partner, cannot get a good gig, has impregnated a friend’s wife, has no place to live, is stuck with a cat he can’t return. Llewyn is having a bad week that only gets worse. His pilgrimage through the Village of 1961 and later still a road trip to Chicago is never glamorous, never unrealistic. His life is peopled with characters that are absurd but realistically drawn. He is not particularly likable but is never evil or irrational. It might be this is just a bad week for him. But when it concludes, we have come full circle and have little faith the following weeks will improve.

This is the best film of 2013 for me. I cannot recommend it highly enough. And if you like folk music, you are doubly blessed.

Patti Abbott