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Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

See what we thought of the Coen brothers latest masterpiece, a film that follows the challenges that face a talented, albeit meandering folk musician as he attempts to carve a path into the music industry in the heart of NYC and to find his lost neighbors cat.

Title: Inside Llewyn Davis

Cert: 15

Release Date: January 24th

Inside Llewyn Davis is a film revolving around a folk musician (portrayed by Oscar Isaac), struggling to get by in a city that seems to be undervaluing his talents, once again not following the traditional format of film, by the end of the film there is no epiphany or significant character development-nor is there a clear adversary for the protagonist to fight, unless you count the intangible enemy that is the task of trying to break into the music industry. As such there’s no need for any ‘spoilers’ warnings as well.

At this point you are probably wondering how a film like this can work. Yet the Coen Brothers prove once again that they can still create masterpieces. Inside Llewyn Davis is a fantastic piece of film with hilarious moments, such as when he tries to bring back a neighbors cat (only to realise he has brought back a different, but very similar looking cat). The film is essentially a drama but has many comedic elements that definitely add to the film.

So far the film has garnered a significant amount of accolade and awards, hitting the London Film Festival where it was welcomed with open arms and continuing to festivals such as Cannes and Hamptons International Film Festival where it picked up Grand Prize of the Jury and two Break Through Performers awards, respectively. On top of this the film also received a bunch of nominations, the most notable being one for Palm d’Or at Cannes, the highest prize awarded at Cannes Film Festival, the prestigious award presented to the best feature film of the official selection and although they did not win, a nomination in itself speaks volumes to the talent of the Cohen brothers work. The film also won the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film (the second most prestigious award at Cannes). The soundtrack is also excellent and really adds to the atmosphere, featuring music from Bob Dylan, Ewan MacColl and a wide array of other folk singers with distinct styles that really benefit the film.

Set in a sub zero NYC, circa 1961, we are given an insight into a folk singer trying to carve a career out in Greenwich village, Manhattan; as he bounces from house to house, crashing on couches with his guitar in tow and little money to his name but who finds solace in his music despite the struggles of being a musician. The plot itself is a hard thing to pin down and trying to explain it does not quite do it justice, this may sound like a bad thing but it works well for the film.

According to Joel Coen, “The film doesn’t really have a plot. That concerned us at one point; that’s why we threw the cat in.”

The movie ends where it started off, we return to the scene with a man in a suit lashing out over a drunken heckle Llewyn made to another musician the night before. Far from a spoiler, this is not an integral part of the story and as the credits roll it seems like there could have been a better ending, unlike most films there has been no great journey or triumph against adversity, nor has there been any great epiphany by the protagonist but the film still stands as an insight into the life of Llewyn and a brief segment of his journey to be a musician and it works, really well.

Inside Llewyn Davis is released in the UK on January 24th. Check out the trailer below.

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