Actors: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Number of discs: 1
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: March 11, 2014
Run Time: 104 minutes
The worst films to review are the ones that have nothing spectacular about them, surviving merely on adequacy in order to make enough money in ticket sales to justify calling it a success. These films are nearly impossible to review, mostly because they are so boringly stuck in familiar formulas and predictable character arcs. Reviewing Inside Lllewyn Davis is proving to be just as difficult to review, but not for its lack of spectacular elements. The problem with this film is finding a place to begin, with every scene of the filming exuding confidence in filmmaking from every possible aspect. This may very well be the most understated film of the year, though every bit as good as every other film nominated for Best Picture this past Academy Awards.
I’ll use this as my starting point for the endless compliments to the Coen brothers and the overly competent cast and crew. Though Inside Llewyn Davis received few nominations, Bruno Delbonnel’s spectacular cinematography was thankfully given that honor. Every frame of this film is a near miracle in cinema, matched by the Coen’s signature subtext-filled witty narrative. They implant a style of humor that only they could accomplish in a film about the bleak globular existence of a struggling artist.
That artist is a folk singer living in
Greenwich Village in
1961 named Llewyn Davis, played spectacularly by Oscar Isaac in minute facial
expressions and comic deadpan delivery. Then there’s the pain mixed with
purpose when he performs, his most significant song book-ending the film. But
this isn’t your typical inspirational struggling artist film, beginning with
the fact that Llewyn is a bit of an asshole. He is as successful in his music
career as a folk singer as he is in life, relying on the kindness of friends
allowing him to sleep on their couch. Life is a matter of survival between
chances to play his guitar, and that is only heightened when Llewyn discovers
that he may have impregnated his friend’s girlfriend (Carey Mulligan).
This film is simple and understated upon first viewing, but it is so brilliantly constructed that I found myself thinking about it for days after viewing it, feeling a strong addiction-like desire to view it again. The DVD special features include a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s musical collaborations, with a cast including Justin Timberlake, Marcus Mumford and Punch Brothers.
Entertainment Value: 9.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 10/10
Historical Significance: 8.5/10
Special Features: 6/10