Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
The Coen Brothers are some of the most successful indie directors of all time, so what would they know about failure? Apparently a lot, if Inside Llewyn Davis is anything to go by. Llewyn (the always fantastic Oscar Isaac) is a folk singer in 1960s New York who can’t, and won’t, catch a break. His singing partner committed suicide, his married lover wants an abortion, he isn’t making any money, he gets beat up in an alley, and he lost (and may have killed) a friend’s cat.
The film is told in a circular fashion, with Llewyn getting beat up in an alleyway at the beginning and end. It’s a different story-telling technique than they’ve used before and it works not only cinematically, but thematically – Llewyn is getting beat up for the whole run time, in one way or another, and he’s constantly making bad decisions and missing his chance to ‘change’ things. In a more conventional movie, Llewyn would learn his lesson. Thank goodness the Coens have never been ones for convention.
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