Sunday, September 29, 2013

New York Film Festival Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

"There are men who struggle for a day and they are good. There are men who struggle for a year and they are better. There are men who struggle many years, and they are better still. But there are those who struggle all their lives: These are the indispensable ones," said revolutionary playwright Bertholt Brecht. The idea of struggle to assert oneself and create a meaningful existence is the essential conflict in everyone's life. This concept dominates the Coen Brother's latest effort "Inside Llewyn Davis" as it encapsulates the journey of a failed musician trying to re-establish a career that seems to be slipping away from him.
Set in 1960s' downtown New York, the film tells the story of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a folk singer who not only has trouble finding a stable gig, but is also has no home and is constantly on the lookout for a friend's place to crash at for the night. The opening showcases a performance by Davis; after finishing up, he is told that a friend is waiting for him in the back alley. This "friend" is a silhouette figure that beats Llewyn to the pulp for "opening his mouth;" Llewyn objects to this accusation by stating that it is his job is to do open his mouth. This play on words (which carries a different significance later in the film), gives the viewer a clear indication that Llewyn has no place in the world at the moment; the shadowy figure could be anyone that has rejected (and will continue to reject) Llewyn as the film progresses. In the ensuing scene, Llewyn finds himself in a nice midtown apartment that is empty save for a cat that follows him around. He makes his way out of the apartment, letting the cat out by accident and being forced to carry it about before he gets a chance to return it to its owners. Llewyn heads downtown where he runs to Jim (Justin Timberlake) and Jean's (Carrie Mulligan) apartment; there he discovers that Jean is pregnant and may be expecting his child. For the remainder of the film, the character embarks on a Homeric odyssey (this is no coincidence as the film will later reveal) to get his career back on track while dealing with personal issues that include his traumatic past. Continue Reading 


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