Inside Llewyn Davis

with one comment

I’ve said it before, and will, no doubt, say it again: I love the Coen Brothers. I am one of the people that will tell you that The Ladykillers is not that bad. So the arrival of new film is always a thing of joy for me. So hello to Inside Llewyn Davis.

Set in Greenwich Village in 1960, ILD takes as it’s jumping off point the autobiography of Dave Van Ronk. It’s a tale of a folk musician bumming around sleeping on peoples couches and looking for a break. It’s a series of oblique incidents an misadventures. Kinda like Barton Fink with a painful dedication to the tradition instead of writers block. Or a companion piece to A Serious Man with the smoke filled clubs replacing suburbia and academia.

The production design is brilliantly redolent of the time. Or I’d imagine it is. Browns and beiges against the ice cold winter in New York. At least it’s evocative of the cover of Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Which I believe is the intention. Also, T Bone Burnett is back on board to produce the music with perfect period detail. And, you cannot fault any of the performances. As always with the Coens, everyone is perfect. Oscar Isaac has very clearly been given the direction “we’d have cast Turturro is he was younger, and could sing” and throws himself into it wholeheartedly.

But. But. There’s something that’s just not quite right. Something texturally feels wrong. Is it new cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel. The Coens work with two before both of whom stamped a hyper-real quality on the films (in very individual ways). This seems a bit televisual. Like a scande-cop show. Not cinematic. But, also, from the opening shot of Davis, he seems too clean. His beard is perfectly sculpted, the cheeks shaved clean. This man is meant to be crashing on couches. And, flawless though the music is, that’s the problem. It may be the actual actors singing this time, but in the context of the film it feels as false as Clooney stepping up to the mic to deliver Man Of Constant Sorrow. For a film about authenticity, it rings untrue.

Of course, I may be being overly picky.

Apparently Van Ronk is selling again. And, I’ve just bought his book. So, not all bad.

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Written by Tony Kiernan

07 February 2014 at 10:29 am

Posted in Film

One Response

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  1. […] or Calvary or The Wind Rises or even Under The Skin could well have been my favourite film. Even a sub-par Coen Brothers offering (which I find myself really wanting to see again) is always in with a shout. But not […]

    2014 |

    01 January 2015 at 12:34 am


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