Park alumni Coen brothers crank out another masterpiece

Characterization, soundtrack make “Inside Llewyn Davis” one of the best films of 2013

Artis Curiskis and Josh Scal

With blunt simplicity and emotional complexity, the Coen Brothers have once again hit the right chords in “Inside Lleywn Davis.” This original screenplay is about a struggling musician in the golden age of folk music entitled “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

The movie’s title, which appears somewhat unoriginal at first glance, perfectly encapsulates the film’s purpose—the entire film enters the mind of its main character, bringing his emotions, concerns, and struggles to the forefront of the overall experience. The audience becomes a witness to Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), the main character’s daily struggles from couch hopping to financial troubles. The audience is drawn to love Llewyn from witnessing his continuous failure to reach his goal of sharing his music. The Coen Brothers perfect the presentation of dark humor, which ends up reducing the tension created by such a conflicted character.

Any movie about a musician must have great music, and “Inside Llewyn Davis” exceeds any expectations. Tracks by Marcus Mumford and Bob Dylan containing a somber tone reflect that of the movie and full-length songs provide emotional insight to the viewer. Isaac’s ability to act through his music becomes evident from the first scene through the final one as his music doesn’t simply accompany the plot, it drives the plot forward.

Isaac’s performance beyond showcasing his musical abilities also stands out as a fantastic portrayal of a struggling musician who remains hopeful. Throughout the film, Llewyn never loses his ironic humor and sense of the absurd, even as his situation deteriorates. His ability to incite true empathy from his audience without a doubt shines as one of the highlights of the film.

The Coen Brothers are known for creating memorable characters such as “The Dude” from “The Big Lebowski,” and they continue to feature this ability in “Inside Llewyn Davis.” One character that stands out is Jean Berkey played by Carey Mulligan. Berkey is a sweet and lovable singer on stage, however after the set is over her sharpe demeaning personality appears. The strong contrast between her stage presence and conversations with Llewyn make her a memorable character.  In addition, the Coens create characters most audience members can relate to such as the overly welcoming family friend.

The Coens’ trusted cinematographer Roger Deakins continues to prove his brilliance in throughout “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Similar to the sepia film used for “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou,” the Coen Brothers paint each scene with a greyish, smudged tint to intertwine with the sad story. This thematic cinematographic element pairs well with the Coens’ use of light. Each light source seems to be smudged and diluted, to continue the cold aura of Llewyn’s life.

Although Joel and Ethan Coen do not rest upon Park’s hall of fame wall, their brilliant work does not go unnoticed throughout the world. The cinematography and music of “Inside Llewyn Davis” release a melancholy feeling upon the audience, but ultimately leave them with hope. Hope to be as stubborn and ignorant when chasing dreams as Llewyn.

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