Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Garret Hedlund and Adam Driver
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
“If it was never new and it never gets old then it’s a folk song”
While science fiction and fantasy filmmakers such as James Cameron and Peter Jackson are commonly credited with being ‘world-builders’ Joel and Ethan Coen create believable, tangible worlds and environments on a much smaller and more personal scale. While the brothers may have frequently been questioned in regards to the ultimate satisfaction provided by their scripts, even their doubters would struggle to criticize their talents behind the camera. Coen brothers films are clearly meticulously constructed, yet concurrently exude an anarchic and free-spirited nature. Aided by Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography, Inside Llewyn Davis looks fantastic; even with its rather washed out, cold and dark aesthetic. Despite its rather chilly and depressing demeanor, a tone and atmosphere is created in this film, which is oddly comforting and arresting. A big part of this is undoubtedly the soundtrack, which is in my opinion the year’s best.
From first song to last, Inside Llewyn Davis is a treat for the ears and the soundtrack is one that is certain to live a long life on my iPod. A great soundtrack is not merely the presence of great songs however, it is how they are used to further and deepen the emotions and narrative of the film. In Inside Llewyn Davis, the song Fare Thee Well is used three times throughout, each time brilliantly and beautifully, with it being the true theme song of the film. Along with the adorable and amusing storyline regarding the cat, it is the emotional and symbolic spine of the piece. What helps the music shine, is the inclusion of actors who are able to perform and do justice to such tracks.
Oscar Isaac demonstrates in this film just what a tremendous actor he is. As the titular character, Isaac is in every single scene of this film and carries it brilliantly. Not only does he pull off the musical side of the character, he also expertly and subtly hints at the hidden emotional struggles of the character, displaying on his face the marks of the past. Completely unrecognizable from his performances in films such as Drive and Sucker Punch, Isaac truly is a chameleonic actor who completely disappears into the role he is playing. This is a career best performance that will also hopefully be a career making performance. It is one of 2013’s very best performances and one that the film could not work without. Carey Mulligan is also subtly superb in her supporting role. While initially provided with one note, she gives the character dimensions, which other actresses may have struggled to do. Adam Driver has a fun little role, as does Justin Timberlake, though in regards to the acting, this really is Isaac’s show.
The film’s meandering and melancholic nature works both for and against the film. As the film moves towards the end it does start to drag and there is a movement starring John Goodman and Garret Hedlund that didn’t sit well with me on a first viewing. The film seemed to be both trying to hard and resting on laurels regarding John Goodman, whilst Hedlund’s silent act didn’t work as well as it could have. It also doesn’t help that it was not immediately apparent what the purpose of that section was, however with all Coen brothers films there is an elusiveness in regards to their intentions and I am sure that with repeat viewings, many more elements of this film will become thematically and symbolically clearer. The film has already started to grow on me and I have a feeling that it will stay with me longer than most films this year.
As the film reaches its repetitive final scene I understand those who ultimately may have found the journey pointless and unsatisfying. However there is a certain poetic poignancy to the roundabout nature of the narrative, with the film in many ways being a piece of folk cinema…what we saw was never new, and it’ll never get old.
Movie Parliament Rating: MAJORITY GOVERNMENT
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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