Folk music is often confused for country music, which is like comparing planets to oranges. The only thing they have in common is the shape, but the content of each differs completely. While country music deals with pick up trucks, heavy drinking, and losing one of your true loves (the other true love would be the afore mentioned truck), folk music focuses on a spectrum of emotion, social & political issues, and profound realizations. I’m generalizing of course, but you get the idea. Folk music is often overlooked and underappreciated, and Llewyn Davis is no exception to this grievous mistake.
Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a perpetually down on his luck folk singer. He was once part of a semi-successful duo that didn’t last long due to unfortunate circumstances. Llewyn’s life is a set of unfortunate circumstances, but you don’t feel bad for him because of his crass, harsh, sarcastic nature. He is only a product of his environment, which is New York’s 1960’s folk music scene, an unforving place for an uncompromising artist during the beginning of rock-and-roll.
His gypsy/homeless lifestyle has him frequenting the couches of his decreasing number of friendsx but especially his ex-girlfriend Jean (Carey Mulligan) and her new boyfriend Jim (Justin Timberlake). This week we join Llewyn on a quest, or odyssey if you will, that will put his morals and principles to the test. He encounters a drug addict, a music producer, and several comic-relief cats. Who knows, maybe the impossible will happen and you’ll end up not disliking Llewyn Davis as a person. Or maybe you’ll end up hating him. It’s something you’ll have to experience.
I’m from Chicago and the winters here can be cold, gray and unforgiving, so I’m no stranger to “winter depression”. The film’s tone and palette mimics a harsh winter’s day so perfectly, that no matter where you are watching this film from, you will come down with a temporary case of Seasonal Affective Disorder that will last approximately 105 minutes. No medical attention is needed because the cure is a healthy dose of intellectual humor, which the Coen Brother’s provide in hearty amounts. The film will lull you into a somber melancholia, but it provides enough comedy and wit to keep you from crossing the border into sadness.
The Coen Brother’s have given us another masterfully done misanthropic film that takes us on an unimaginable journey to places unknown, or in Llewyn’s case, places that are known far too well. As any good folk song will tell you, when you start a major trip, the destination should be secondary to the actual journey there.
RATING: ★★★★★★★★★(9/10 stars)
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