Friday, October 3, 2014

Movie Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

Movie: Inside Llewyn Davis

Director: The Coen Brothers

Writer: The Coen Brothers

Cast: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Adam Driver, Garrett Hedlund, Ethan Phillips, & Max Casella 

One-Line Plot Synopsis: A week in the life of folk singer Llewyn Davis (Isaac) in 1961.

I have a long-standing theory that every other Coen Brothers movie is awesome.  I love their crime drama movies.  I can’t stand their comedies (with The Big Lebowski being the exception to the rule…and to a lesser extent Raising Arizona).  So, when I first saw the trailer for Inside Llewyn Davis, I wasn’t sure what to think exactly.  It didn’t fall into one of their two categories of movies that I was used to.  It seemed much more like a biopic of a folk singer that would be a blend of a couple of different musicians from the 1960’s.

Knowing that Marcus Mumford (Marcus is married to Carey Mulligan afterall), The Punch Brothers, Bob Dylan, and others were contributing to the soundtrack and songwriting, it made me a little more optimistic about the film as a whole.  Regardless of how I would feel about the movie, I was at least going to get some decent music out of it.  And that part, I was definitely right about.
The film as whole doesn’t so much have a specific plot to it other than following Llewyn Davis (played by Oscar Isaac) as he struggles to make ends meet as a folk singer in 1961.  Random characters flow in and out of the picture as he connects with different people in different ways through music.  A lot of problems, or would-be problems, crop up in the beginning but don’t really play a part in the overall theme of the movie or in our main character.  Major events that would make the soul of an entire film (abortion, suicide, etc.) come up for a minute and then are forgotten about the next as he plays some more songs.

Oscar Isaac, who it turns out is a heck of a good singer, does a very good job in portraying the struggles of a musician but I would have been much more interested in his personal life struggles then about getting paid for a record.  There were a number of things weighing on him that you could see in his sullen expression but they all got grouped together as baggage instead of coming to the forefront.  
My biggest problem with the movie had to do with the completely unnecessary scenes with John Goodman and Garret Hedlund.  I get that the Coen Brothers and Goodman are old pals and they like having him in their movie, but not only were the scenes pointless, they took time away from what could have been used on better things.  Goodman was just annoying with a haircut that made him look like the owner of the Oakland Raiders, Mark Davis.

Hedlund on the other hand, just smoked a couple cigarettes and grunted.  I know the dude can sing from Country Strong (yeah I saw it, so what) so why wasn’t he used in a role where you could feature that instead of doing nothing but driving while he rips on a cigarette.

Overall, I just thought the movie was pretty boring but with some pretty good music.  I’ll just wait until the next Coen Brothers crime drama that gets me excited about them enough to see another one of their comedies.  It’s a fair payoff if you ask me.

Rating: 5.5/10

Side Notes:
  • I think Oscar Isaac looks like a combination of Jake Johnson & David Krumholtz but you decide.
Oscar Isaac
Jake Johnson 
David Krumholtz
  • I would have never guessed that Oscar Isaac was half Guatemalan and half-Cuban.  If anything I would have said Jewish.  It makes a lot more sense now that I know his real full name is Oscar Isaac Hernandez.
  • Favorite Song: “P-P-Please Mr. Kennedy”
  • Real Favorite Song: “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me”