Every year I usually try to see all of the movies that receive Golden Globe nominations so that I am prepared for the Academy Awards. Since I had not seen “Inside Llewyn Davis” which received three Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture, my wife and I drove thirty miles to catch film at an indie movie house. This morning, I am still trying to figure out what all the hoopla is about.
“Inside Llewyn Davis,” which is directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, transport us to Greenwich Village during the year 1961, where Llewyn Davis (Oscar Davis) is a down on his luck folk singer who crashes on other peoples couches. It seems that Llewyn had, had some success earlier in his career when he performed with a partner, but for reasons unknown the partner committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. In his current state, Lleywn wonders around with his guitar looking for gigs in the Village, Queens, the Upper West Side, and finally a road trip to Chicago, where he hooks up with a junkie jazz man (John Goodman) and his pedestrian poet chauffeur while hitch hiking. The Chicago trip culminates in a bust when Llewyn performs for a promoter who bluntly tells him to get back with his partner.
The sidelines of the story has something to do with a runaway cat that Llewyn is responsible for; a girl (Carrey Mulligan) that he thinks he may have impregnated; and a series of nasty episodes with colleagues. In general, Llewyn Davis is a big jerk who the viewers will have a hard time empathizing with. The Coen Brothers are famous for their down and out portrayals of losers being beat down by society, but Llewyn doesn’t have a morsel of humanity (even Lebowski had some redeeming qualities.)
On the plus side the folk music is pretty good and there is a melodious gig where Llewyn and Justin Timberlake perform the tune “Please Mr. Kennedy,” which was nominated by the Golden Globes for Best Original Song and written by T Bone Barnett. Oscar Isaac is quite good in his part as a pre-Bob Dylan bust out; John Goodman puts in a great five minutes as the junkie jazz man; and Justin Timberlake does a nice job performing a few folk songs ─ but Best Motion Picture: “Give me a break.”
Reviewers Notes: The Llewyn Davis character is based on the life of Dave Van Ronk, who was popular in the New York folk singing scene during the 60’s.
My Rating: 3 of 5 Folk Singing Fools.