Inside Llewyn Davis
Another typical Coen Brothers production, which as always is usually not everybody's cup of tea. Sadly it got shutout in the Oscars except for a nod for cinematography, despite winning the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival (but, yes, the cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel was really a standout). Nonetheless, this was an intimate character study of one man's week-long journey in understanding and discovering himself. Where characterisation takes a back seat to plot narrative.
Oscar Isaac was a revelation, embodying his character's desperation to get out of his current situation for which he (may or may not) had a part in putting himself there. As he plods through the week and the hand that fate dealt him, one can't help but relate to having a similar kind of week where everything seemed to be just going against you. And that is his journey that we are witnessing. A man, possibly at one of his lowest point, always making the wrong decisions and plagues by the constant doubt of "What if?". How his story end we won't know for the Coens, wisely, chose to have the story end as it started. That kind of brave ending allows the audience to ruminate and contemplate and reflect both on Llewyn and on themselves.
Carey Mulligan and John Goodman stood out amongst the supporting cast. Mulligan, who was initially unrecognisable, gave her character just the slightest inflection such that we know she is not as hard-hearted as her mouth suggest; Goodman, on the other hand, was a hoot and scene stealer in his brief interlude on a very strange road-trip.
Most of the songs were sung live, and kudos to T Bone Burnett (he's everywhere these days! Nashville and True Detective) as the show's Music Producer.
The Coen Brothers can be depended on giving unique films that are not of the Hollywood rut. As a comedy this is way smarter than American Hustle or The Wolf of Wolf Street but smarts does not necessarily translate to financial bonanza. Their directing here was simple and un-showy, but coupled with Delbonnel's gorgeous cinematography, gives an intimate sense of their protagonist's journey. Even the narrative structure boosted the desperate, repetitive nature of Llewyn Davis' life like how he pioneer-ed couch-surfing.
And that cat! Reminds me of Haruki Murakami and his novels which is what this movie seems to emulate.