From the first scene, we note the motivation of the brothers Coen. This film is thus born out of a love of folk music. And throughout the film, the brothers directors do not action-packed, never a single song.
Each melody folk will be played in its entirety, and interpreted by Oscar Isaac. This film is appealing because the folk music interpreted is both powerful and accessible. These two characteristics at the same time as the first scene describes a folk music in a community closed in on itself. Like a little world unknown, that we light, but in which the public is in black and appears to freeze.
It is indeed the impact of this community that the film explores. With a nod to Bob Dylan in the end, the film is constantly in the light of the precursors. Characters defined by their music, characters exciting because lost in time. And what is fascinating with this is that one note of the brothers Coen that go up to the root. They go back to the source, where all the difficulty is obvious. Thus, in the company of the musical director of O Brother, the brothers Coen have created a new odyssey. A journey where the end is not certain, where the outcome is constantly called into danger.
But it should not be wrong : the brothers Coen have not made a biopic. Their mastery of fiction is no longer to prove, and it is indeed this odyssey that interests them. From this, they are a new portrait of a loser. Llewyn Davis is also a character on the margins of society. From there, the brothers Coen have begun to question the existentialism, where the fate becomes a necessity. In this slice-of-life (the plot takes place over a single week), Llewyn Davis is a prisoner of change.
“Melancholy and humor, for an odyssey cold a loser” Click to tweet
This resonates to the arrival of Bob Dylan, when the door of the club closes on Llewyn Davis and Bob Dylan is in the background in the light. A prison made up by a cycle of errors. Llewyn is not necessarily bad choices, but he repeats his stubbornness. The one where he wants to make it big with his music, with its repertoire. But as so well expressed by John Goodman : there is nothing harmonious in his music. Also with the producer of Chicago, who confesses to him that her music will not sell it solo. As if Llewyn Davis had only one solution : to join his former partner in his suicide, for that the great artists are finally recognized after their death.
This is still not as powerful in Coen, what are the tones covered. Between humour and melancholy, the film will play on several emotions and sensations. This is the case with the characters also. The brothers directors will have fun creating counter-jobs. Llewyn Davis is an angel on the stage, but it appears to be an asshole outside. The character of Carey Mulligan is exactly in this vision. Very sweet on stage, her character is unbearable and vulgar on the outside. There was also the case of John Goodman. A character also generous (it accommodates and transports Llewyn with him) but also arrogant (but terribly honest).
All this in an atmosphere very cold. First, the film happens in the midst of winter season. It would be hard to see another season for this story. As the life is hard, as people are selfish, both by the failures that we cannot illuminate. As an illusion, a romance too perfect and cruelty certain. With this oppression constant. New York in the middle of winter, it is the rigor that surfaces in the film. From there, the brothers Coen can play with desaturated colors.
There is even a part of cynicism in this film. The brothers Coen manage to capture the hell in which fall Llewyn Davis. The singer never manages to establish a connection serious with the other. The only intimate relationship he has, it may be with the red cat. A so so anti-hero, made to withstand all the blows that the life he intended. What is so amazing with the brothers Coen, this is the framework they choose. The film works as a condition of the premises. Going well beyond the odyssey, the visual offered to the spectator is none other than the incarnation of the landscape of emotional Llewyn Davis.
Where Barton Fink was an artist down, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS offers us simply an artist who never gets there. This evolution in the brothers filmmakers is exciting. Their story becomes more simple, and their shape (always in 35mm) is less crazy. But this is not a defect, quite the contrary. This shows how much the Coen brothers can be fine in writing, with all points of view as possible. Example : where the red cat could not appear as a detail warm, it is above all a metaphor. It is the mirror of Llewyn Davis. His savagery is natural, its faufilements to find a safe place, his eyes melancholy, etc…
If we want to go further with this film, we can return to the absurd that the Coen worship. This almost burlesque, of which this film is proof, more in the order of the black humour. Where the brothers Coen demonstrate that art has become an industry business show. Where the amount of an award ticket on the quality of the melodies. Llewyn Davis is so stuck in this life of bohemia, in this hell which keeps it hope. He was missing more than the ultimate reference on the part of the brothers Coen (on the odyssey and on their filmography) : the ginger cat called Ulysses.
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