movie film review | chris tookey

Inside Llewyn Davis

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  Inside Llewyn Davis Review
Tookey's Rating
4 /10
Average Rating
8.63 /10
Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake
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Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Written by: Joel Coen

Released: 2013
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 105

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Inside Llewyn Davis is a revelatory showcase for Isaac, who sings with an angelic voice and turns a potentially unlikable character into a consistently relatable, unmistakably human presence — a reminder that humility and genius rarely make for comfortable bedfellows.
(Scott Foundas, Variety)
This is a gorgeously made character study leavened with surrealistic dimensions both comic and dark, an unsparing look at a young man who, unlike some of his contemporaries, can’t transcend his abundant character flaws and remake himself as someone else.
(Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter)
In a movie set up to trap us within Llewyn's repetitive loop of failure, baiting us with hope before quashing it with quiet desperation again and again, something more than comic relief is needed to soften the blow a little, and the film's musical interludes are that pillow.
(Ian Buckwalter, NPR)
It’s a character piece, and one of the best and most understated movies I’ve ever seen about the grieving process.
(Jordan Hoffman,
In top form, Joel and Ethan Coen offer up feel-bad experiences that, like fine blues medleys, make you feel good (although with an acidulous aftertaste). Inside Llewyn Davis is one of their best. So many movies are emblazoned with happy faces; this one wears its sadness, and its snarl, proudly.
(Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor)
Despite its atmosphere of failure and melancholy, Inside Llewyn Davis is ultimately a dark valentine to both its hero and his milieu.
(Dana Stevens, Slate)
The film's centerpiece is Mr. Isaac's phenomenal performance. He's an actor, first and foremost, who is also a musician.
(Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal)
Where Barton Fink sometimes resembled a horror movie, Inside Llewyn Davis plays like an elegy. Its conclusions are more regretful than angry, and while the conflict between art and commerce is no less central, there’s much more emphasis on that conflict’s personal toll.
(Keith Phipps, The Dissolve)
The Coens fashion an atmospheric descent for Llewyn, a meticulous re-creation of Greenwich Village's folk scene in 1961, around the time Bob Dylan hit town.
(Steve Persall, Tampa Bay Times)
As flawless as any film this year and rock-solid confirmation that Joel and Ethan Coen are the greatest filmmakers working in America (and perhaps anywhere else) today.
(Marc Mohan, Portland Oregonian)
Inside Llewyn Davis plays like some beautiful, foreboding, darkly funny dream.
(Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer)
What Inside Llewyn Davis is all about: the passion, and the pain, of being an artist.
(Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Inside Llewyn Davis is one of the Coens’ smallest movies — this one doesn't have the broad appeal of True Grit or No Country For Old Men — but like Llewyn’s music, it comes from the heart and it is deeply felt. It is also one of their best.
(Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald)
For my money, the 33-year-old Isaac – who was born in Guatemala, raised in Florida, and has been working his way toward stardom for years – gives the year’s breakout performance, and Inside Llewyn Davis is one of the Coens’ richest, strangest and most potent films.
(Andrew O'Hehir,
While the bleak, funny, exquisitely made Inside Llewyn Davis echoes familiar themes and narrative journeys, it also goes its own way and becomes a singular experience, one of their best films.
(Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times)
An evocative vision of self-destruction, a gorgeously crafted time capsule, and a fantastic showcase for Oscar Isaac in the title role.
(Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News)
This is not a biopic, it’s a Coen brothers movie, which is to say a brilliant magpie’s nest of surrealism, period detail and pop-culture scholarship. To put it another way, it’s a folk tale.
(A.O. Scott, New York Times)
Although the Coens are consummate craftsmen, they don't always show the lightness of touch or the depth of feeling they do here.
(Stephanie Zacharek, Village Voice)
One thing's for sure about this raw provocation from the Coens: Like the music, the pain runs deep and true. You'll laugh till it hurts.
(Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)
As played by an eloquently beleaguered Oscar Isaac, Llewyn Davis is arguably the most vivid and complex character the Coens have dreamed up since Marge Gunderson.
(Chris Cabin, Slant Magazine)
This is adult drama with an impeccable sense of period and a strong focus on character. With today's cinema sadly lacking in movies like this, it makes Inside Llewyn Davis all the more welcome, especially for those who care about the kind of music it honors.
(James Berardinelli, Reelviews)
As played by Oscar Isaac, he's snidely funny, world-weary and deeply sad. Though his story is enigmatic, the film itself is brilliantly acted, gorgeously shot and altogether captivating.
(Claudia Puig, USA Today)
If you love the Coens, or follow folk music, or hold fast to this period of history and that patch of New York, then the film can hardly help striking a chord.
(Anthony Lane, New Yorker)
The Coens have given us a melancholic, sometimes cruel, often hilarious counterfactual version of music history. It's a what-if imagining of a cultural also-ran that maybe tells us more about the truth than the facts themselves ever could.
(Dave Calhoun, Time Out London)
Inside Llewyn Davis throbs with melancholy, hunches under heavy skies, revels in music history's unsexiest scene and unapologetically leaves you dangling. It is also beautiful, heartfelt and utterly enthralling.
(Dan Jolin, Empire)
The Coen brothers on top sardonic form with a winning tale of an incorrigible loser. Hits the right note on every level, from period vibe to performance (human and feline).
(Philip Kemp, Total Film)
Brilliantly written, terrifically acted, superbly designed and shot; it's a sweet, sad, funny picture about the lost world of folk music which effortlessly immerses us in the period.
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(Peter Bradshaw, Guardian)
This is instant A-list Coens; enigmatic, exhilarating, irresistible.
(Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph)
A Coen brothers charmer about . . .  almost absolutely nothing you could pin down as a substantive subject. That is its charm; that and a sense of place and time that lends a poetic glow to wryly fugitive plotting. This delectable days-in-the-life – or daze-in-the-life – tale of a struggling Welsh-born New York folk singer (played by Cuban-Guatemalan-born rookie star and folkie Oscar Isaac) is their best film since No Country for Old Men. It is also, I suspect, a homage to two of the filmmakers’ obsessive ur-texts, The Odyssey, which inspired O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and Joyce’s Ulysses. Old adage: if you want to borrow, borrow from the best. On the rough seas of the early 1960s Manhattan music scene sails dark-bearded, drifting Llewyn. His mission is to find a home, a job and perhaps a Penelope – the snappish singer ex-girlfriend (Carey Mulligan) on whom he still sponges will no longer do – and his only companion is a ginger cat called, yes, Ulysses.
(Nigel Andrews, Financial Times)
All this might get tiresome in the hands of anyone but the Coen brothers, who based the story on the memoirs of the singer-songwriter Dave Van Ronk. But their obvious fascination with that early Sixties folk scene, and their sheer love and feel for dialogue, keep us engaged.
(Brian Viner, Daily Mail)

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