Home Entertainment Inside Llewyn Davis: An Odyssey of a “Wasn’t” musician

Inside Llewyn Davis: An Odyssey of a “Wasn’t” musician

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Inside Llewyn Davis is the newest project from writers/directors Joel and Ethan Coen. This film is the winner of 4 National Society of Film Critic’s Awards that include Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Cinematography. The story follows a week in the life of folk singer Llewyn Davis as he battles the question that haunts a musician’s dreams: At what point do you throw in the towel?

What I love most about this movie is the fact that Llewyn’s journey is not the typical Hollywood formula that usually follows a lead character chasing their musical aspirations. Generally, the musician character runs through a series of trials that is supposed to make them grow as a person, then somehow they luckily manage to play at just the right venue in front of just the right person and land a record deal as the ultimate prize for their difficult journey. You will not find that in this film and that is what makes it amazing. Life is not perfect. We are not perfect. The emotions that reach us through this film seem a bit more real without the unrealistic expectation of a happy ending.

Llewyn’s journey is a dark ride that takes him from New York to Chicago in 1961. His lives as a modern nomad, he’s utterly broke, and there is no light waiting for him at the end of the tunnel. Llewyn, since the beginning of his solo career, has been unable to land steady gigs outside of dive bars such as The Gaslight, which he refers to as a “basket-house.” He snags a ride to Chicago to try out for The Gate of Horn and is told, “I see no money here.”

Folk music has not reached its moment of appreciation within the music scene of 1961. It is at this point that Llewyn tries to turn away from music and head back to the merchant seamen. Life has different plans. He is not meant to abandon writing and performing folk music- it seems the world is stepping in and telling him to stick it out. At the end of the film there is a young Bob Dylan character that goes up to play after Llewyn and seems to be drawing the crowd into his music. It would seem that sometime soon folk music might reach the mainstream.

We would all like to think just because we follow an idea or a passion that we will be the ones to make it mainstream. The truth is these things fall into place in their own time. Llewyn may find himself in a more accepting time in the very near future.

It has been said in interviews that the Brothers may be ending their era of shooting with 35 mm film with this latest project. They say that even though it all goes into a computer to be edited anyway, which arguably makes it “digital” regardless, that there is still a particular feel to what is being shown. I agree whole-heartedly and am slightly sad to see the possible end of an era from some of my favorite filmmakers. From Blood Simple in 1984 to the 2013 Inside Llewyn Davis—it has been an incredible expedition of film.

Take the trip with Llewyn through the 1961 folk-music scene as he heads towards the realization that we are put where we are meant to be. Also, be sure to catch the significance of Llewyn being nudged forward by his catalyst “Ulysses.”

By: Kyle Yung

My name is Kyle Yung. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in theatre and English from Hanover College, as well as a Masters Degree in creative writing from Full Sail University. I have a wide array of experience, including starting a community theatre company, working as a sound designer, photographing sports for a newspaper and operating heavy machinery at a steel mill.