Movie Review: “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

(Photo: StudioCanal)

After yawning through one hour and 45 minutes of the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, I considered not writing a review. Writing a review requires me to invest more precious seconds in this dull, folk musical. Yes, the film will rack up awards and critics will love it, but Inside Llewyn Davis is more about the pretentiousness of filmmaking and less about its audience.

In case you didn’t know, the Coen brothers are darlings every awards season. No one can deny their talent, therefore, it should be no shock that their latest flick is nearly universally praised by critics. But regardless of the accolades, I have to be honest — just imagine I’m strumming a guitar, it might be easier to read: Inside Llewyn Davis earned the distinct honor of being the most overrated film of the year — consider the snooze-fest The Artist of 2013.

The comedy-drama was written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, who have mastered artsy, highfalutin filmmaking. The star of the film is Oscar Isaac, who portrays Llewyn Davis, a struggling singer-songwriter in 1961 New York City. Going “inside” his world, the movie takes us on a week in the life of Davis. He sleeps from couch to couch, loses a cat, tries to land a record deal, argues with his bitter, pregnant lover and plays guitar at random bars in Greenwich Village. Decorated with grey cinematography that appeared to be polished with ash, the moody film is a cinematic tranquilizer.

Inside Llewyn Davis is not a poorly made film. But no matter how much one tries to intellectualize, dramatize or emotionalize Inside Llewyn Davis — the film lacks entertainment value. Yes, the acting is good, there are a few well-written folky ditties performed by Isaac, Justin Timberlake plays a small role, John Goodman is perfect as always, but the flick is inaccessible. Inside Llewyn Davis will be another overhyped, award-winning film that the average moviegoer will never see or hear about beyond 2013.

Inside Llewyn Davis is playing in select cities now.

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Bubba Said on

I think it is pretty clear that Clay Cane does not have the intellectual acumen required for viewing an adult movie. This is not criticism, this is just an inarticulate and unsupported opinion of someone who would be more comfortable reviewing video games.

Zach Said on

Yes! What this country needs is more Transformers movies! Or maybe another comedy with Vince Vaughan!

Bro how did you become a movie critic? You are basically saying that it’s a well made movie, but because it is “smart” you don’t like it?

Come on man grow up.

Heidi Said on

Thank you Clay for not following the crowd and giving your honest opinion. One I could not agree with more.

robot Said on

I bet Clay gives The Madea Christmas movie 5 stars

Josh Said on

awwww poor baby didn’t like the mooovie? :’(


Claudia Beechman Said on

I have to agree with Clay. After listening to the Coen Brothers interview on Fresh Air and reading all the glowing reviews, I was disappointed by the film.
Oscar Isaac is a fine actor, but the characters were uniformly unsympathetic– this movie is unrelieved tedium.

MovieJay (@MovieJay) Said on

I’ve let this movie swirl around inside me all day since seeing the first showing of it up here in Toronto.

I’m always there for the Coens on opening day. It’s because they give me so much sustenance almost every single time out.

But I was left cold by this movie. “Polished with ash” is exactly right. They should have just made it in black and white. I have no idea why they didn’t.

I found being inside Llewyn Davis was like having to understand and accept the viewpoint of a misanthropic loser boy. By the end I had had enough of his bad attitude.

I’m not sure what this movie is trying to say. The performers are dutiful pluckers in their music numbers, but I found most of the numbers lifeless, like this movie. I didn’t feel like there was much to care about, and the subplot involving the cat just seems not up to the Coen standard.

There is a movie to be made about this particular era, but this is not the right one. We need the one where Joni comes to town. And Leonard. And Bob.


TD Said on

Never read Clay before but — wow — that was a bad review. You don’t need to like a movie but you certainly need to give constructive and articulate criticism to back your comments. Why is it: “more about the pretentiousness of filmmaking and less about its audience.”? If you would have backed up that comment I would not be writing to you now. You can feel that if you want but you need to back it up. Yes, I read a lot of positive reviews for this film. The difference is these reviewers tell you why they believe it was so great. You can dislike a film Sir Clay but you need to write a better review for your opinion to be respected.

billyjoe Said on

Shorter Clay review: “Where are are the black people?”