With Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Inside Llewyn Davis now confirmed for the Cannes Film Festival competition slate, here’s a portion of my 3.9.12 script review:
“The Coen’s script, typically sharp and well-honed with tasty characters and tart, tough dialogue (especially from Carey Mulligan‘s character), is about lethargy, really. And about taking care of a friend’s cat. And seeing to an abortion and trying to get paid and figure out your next move and…whatever else, man. It’s about a guy who isn’t even close to getting his act together, who just shuffles around from one couch to the next, grasping at straws, doing a session recording one day and trying to land a performing gig the next, like a rolling stone, no direction home.
“It’s about how shitty it felt to be aimless and broke without a lot of passion in downtown Manhattan during the first year of the Kennedy administration. A line from an Amazon review of Dave Van Ronk’s co-authored autobiography notes that ‘the truth is that being a folk singer in the late 1950s wasn’t very much fun.’ That sums up Inside Llewyn Davis. It’s about a guy who ‘exists’ as a folk singer rather than one who is really struggling to be heard and living the life and half-getting somewhere.
“The period details are subtle and spot-on, and yes, Bob Dylan does make an oblique appearance at the very end (and is heard singing ‘I Was Young When I Left Home’) but Davis…? What a loser, what a deadhead.
“But I loved the script. It’s a real Coen Bros. film. When you’ve finished it you know you’ve tasted the early ’60s and that atmosphere (if I know the Coens the CG recreations of 1961 Manhattan are going to be exceptional) and that kick-around way of life, and that you’ve really become familiar with Llewyn Davis’s loser lifestyle. It’s something to bite into and remember. It has flavor and realism, but it has no story to speak of, really. Shit just happens. It’s a bit like A Serious Man, but without the theme about God’s cruelty and indifference to the plight of mortals.
“What are Joel and Ethan saying (if they were the kind of filmmakers who makes movies in order to ‘say’ something, which they’re not)? If you’re not driven or talented enough, don’t try to become a performer because life will take you down if you don’t have that spark? Something like that.”