Saturday, March 8, 2014

2013 - INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, another dour Coen Brothers character study

If the studio that put up the money for Inside Llewyn Davis was expecting another hit film and soundtrack like the Coen's previous semi musical film, "O Brother Where Out Thou?" weren't they in for a surprise.  Instead of a bunch of colorful southern characters and some zippy bluegrass musical numbers what they got was this depressing character study with a bunch of downer folk music tunes.  I also knew this film was in trouble when the lead was sharing scenes with a kitty cat.

The cast was the usually carefully considered group.  However Oscar Isaac is no George Clooney.  Justin Timberlake was cast as a more ambitious and successful folk singer than Llewyn Davis but he doesn't really make much of an impression.  Carey Mulligan plays Timberlake's sort of shrewish wife.  In fact the entire cast with the exception of John Goodman is just a downer.  I don't have a problem with a film having an unlikeable leading character or characters but I still have to have a reason to be interested in them.

The New York and Chicago locations are well chosen, the film does have a feeling for the early 1960's.  The photography however while well done is as big a downer as the characters in this film.  The Coens decided on a muted color pallet with lots of smoke and shadows which only contributes to the overall impression of utter futility and pointlessness that hangs over this film.

The Coens usually make their films on the cheap so I would guess that although this film was not particularly popular with the general public, it probably broke even or made money.  Inside Llewyn Davis is one of those films that seems made for the intelligentsia.

105 minutes.

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