The Coen Brothers never fail to amaze me with their more dramatic and upsetting tales. Ones that wrap themselves in misery and realism, most notably Inside Llewyn Davis. Possibly their most serious of all their movies, without that light touch of comedy the likes of Fargo and True Grit held. A straight-shooting drama, and possibly the outlier in Joel and Ethan’s cinematography.
It doesn’t feel like a Coen Brothers movie, it doesn’t have that stigma attached to it. Unlike Tarantino’s work, The Coen Brothers have managed to make a movie that precedes their name. One that holds more value and for the most part will be better remembered. A movie that has become more of an icon than the famed directors behind the project.
By far this is all thanks to the incredible, career defining performance of Oscar Isaac. Isaac in recent years has proved himself as both a master of the blockbuster and independent, with sporadic appearances in Star Wars, Ex Machina and Suburbicon. Wherever he crops up, you can guarantee a very strong performance will be given. This happens precisely with Inside Llewyn Davis, a performance that completely defines both the tone of the movie and the expectations of the audience.
Sporadic performances from John Goodman, F. Murray Abraham and Justin Timberlake all accelerate Inside Llewyn Davis’s credibility, with surprisingly strong performances from Timberlake and a briefly brilliant appearance from Adam Driver. Goodman is definitely the weakest in the “people I recognise and enjoy” game, with his performance being strangely unusual and not what I was expecting from him. The open ended style of the storyline involving him bugs me somewhat, but satisfies nonetheless.
Without a doubt this is the most lovingly crafted and depressing story the Coen Brothers have ever told. This doesn’t make it better than Fargo or Buster Scruggs, but there’s no point comparing when they’re so tonally different. As its own small project, Inside Llewyn Davis does suffer from some occasional inconsistencies and drama, but at its core is a superb drama piece with some incredible performances.
A genre pleasing drama like Inside Llewyn Davis is hard to perfect, especially for me. I’m very picky when it comes to dramas where nothing really happens. Patterson suffered greatly, as did the sickly and dull Nocturnal Animals. It all comes down to message and metaphors, which unfortunately doesn’t always work in the favour of the film. Luckily for Inside Llewyn Davis, I found it to be an absolute treat from start to finish. Definitely some of the strongest work from everyone involved to date, and a rightfully recommended must watch movie.