What if Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Inside Llewyn Davis hadn’t been released five-plus years ago and instead a couple of months ago? Would it be a more formidable Oscar contender than it was in actuality, when it managed only two nominations (cinematography, sound mixing) and no wins?
Few Coen films have aged better than Llewyn Davis. Every time I re-watch ILD (I’ve seen it at least nine or ten times) it gets a little funnier, a little craftier and more perverse.
Fargo, Miller’s Crossing, No Country For Old Men and Burn After Reading are maxed out — they are what they brilliantly are, preserved in a kind of Coenesque amber. But Llewyn Davis never stops breathing and expanding and rolling its eyes.
It was one of the most critically celebrated and heavily awarded films of ’13, but the Academy slowboats brushed it off. Why? Because in their eyes it was too glum, too downbeat, too grayish-brown, too resigned. Because the misty desaturated color scheme did something to their souls that they just didn’t like.
Suzanne Vega: “I feel that the Coens took a vibrant, crackling, competitive, romantic, communal, crazy, drunken, brawling scene [i.e., early ’60s folk music in Manhattan’s West Village] and crumpled it into a slow brown sad movie.”
For me it’s one of the most consistently amusing Coen flicks ever made. In a downish, contemplating-suicide sort of way. I’d like to watch it again right now. Hell, I want to see a 4K version.
“Wainwright: ‘The theory that the cat is an extension of Llewyn also helps put the ending of the movie in context. When Llewyn leaves the Gorfeins’ for the second time in the final scenes of the film, he keeps the cat inside. This comes after he’s finally learned its name: Ulysses.
“By doing so, I think the uncontrollable, unpredictable Llewyn also comes to terms with a part of himself. He has been awoken from the dream that he’s an undiscovered genius, and from the erroneous notion that talent exists in a vacuum — that any of his poor decisions and arrogant assholery wouldn’t somehow limit his success.'”
HE opinion on the meaning of the cat: Zip. Nothing. It’s just something the Coens came up with one day. It felt good so they stuck with it and worked it into the narrative and threw in some echoes and allusions. They said to each other “we need some kind of through-line, some kind of continuity and a cat is better than a puppy because cats are more Llewyn-like, more sullen and self-regarding.”