BY JOEY HAGER
Palm Harbor University High
The sights and sounds of the Coen brothers' latest film, Inside Llewyn Davis, remind viewers again just how versatile and unique the directorial duo are. They have consistently surprised me with their range of storytelling, from their comedies (The Big Lebowski, Burn After Reading) to their dramas (No Country for Old Men, True Grit), to whatever O Brother, Where Art Thou? was.
The only comparison between these films and Llewyn Davis is the kind of quality that comes with a Coen brothers film. Their style and vision is unparalleled, most notably here. The cinematography is gorgeous, the acting second-to-none, the characters flawed but likable, and the soundtrack — we'll get to the soundtrack.
The film follows a week in the life of struggling folk musician Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), living in New York in the early 1960s. When he's not looking for a couch to crash on for the night, he's searching for his big break, finding no help whatsoever from manager Bud (Homeland's F. Murray Abraham). To his aid comes Jim (Justin Timberlake), a friend and fellow musician, who gives him the opportunity to record a song (Please Mr. Kennedy, a wildly fun original song that was nominated this year for a Golden Globe). Jim also lends Llewyn his couch, to the chagrin of his wife Gene (Isaac's Drive co-star Carey Mulligan), who has her own problems with Llewyn. Isaac and Mulligan in particular give great performances, as do supporting actors John Goodman (a Coen brothers veteran), and scene-stealer Adam Driver (Adam, of HBO's Girls).
Davis does have one irritating flaw, which seems to be a trend in some other Coen films: There's no plot. Its absence really didn't even occur to me while I was watching; the movie was by no means slow or dull or boring, but everything just sort of… happens. There's nothing gravely wrong with that, but it left me with just a hint of dissatisfaction.
The lack of plot, however, is more than made up for by the soundtrack: a wonderful compilation of traditional folk songs performed by Isaac, Timberlake and Mulligan, as well as appearances by Marcus Mumford and Bob Dylan. I've been listening to it a lot since it came out, even before I saw the film, and it's quickly becoming a favorite.
Davis did something not a lot of films are able to do: left me smiling. It was funny, it was sad and it was a wonderful showcase of the multitalented Oscar Isaac. I liked the character Llewyn Davis a lot, and if you're a fan of folk, sweaters and orange tabby cats, you'll like the movie Llewyn Davis too.