Inside Llewyn Davis Is Impossible To Comprehend

Inside Llewyn Davis Is Impossible To Comprehend
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Movie Inside Llewyn Davis Is Impossible To Comprehend. This is a fact. Trust me, I’ve been working at it for days. And to say that it’s a simple biopic about a failed musician is to 100% miss the point. Trust me on this. That is probably the ONLY wrong answer for explaining this movie. Definitely not what is happening here. So let’s see if we can explain this movie Inside Llewyn Davis together and come up with what it is actually saying… OK? But first you have to watch the film. Inside Llewyn Davis can be found right here.

Inside Llewyn Davis Walkthrough

The movie begins, and it ends, with a cat. A cat, that may, or may not be alive as we round the bend and give it another go. Wait, why are we going in circles? Anyone? Anyone? Well, the Coen brothers, started with the end, and the entire movie long, send our protagonist, Llewyn Davis, hurtling back towards his date with a beating. This particular film is the perfect Schrodinger’s Cat experiment. Is it alive? Or is it dead?

So it’s about the cat. The cat was an accident. But so is so much in this movie. It’s all an accident of one sort or another. Particularly the possibility of a baby to be. Specifically about the possibility of a baby that may, or may not, be Llewyn Davis’ (played by Oscar Isaac, uh, Ex Machina?) via Jean (Carey Mulligan – who recently blew the lid off of the movie Promising Young Woman). Jean, who is married Jim, whom she would love to have the baby if its Jim’s… but absolutely not if its Llewyn Davis’. See? The entire movie is held in the balance possibilities. “I have to get rid of what might be a perfectly fine baby that I want because everything you touch turns to shit! Like King Midas’ idiot brother.” To be, or not to be… as it were.

The film is 100% about the hanging question of the idea of the arts. That was muddled. Let me try again. Inside Llewyn Davis is about the potential of the grandeur of the arts. And, it’s also, simultaneously, about the near obvious guaranteed destitution that the arts will also bring. Which. Is THE DEFINITION of irony. Right?

What? RIGHT? It is ironic… right? You are with me here? No. The Coen Brothers, two of the most experienced and successful Independent filmmakers of all time. And yet, this movie is the definition of irony. It simultaneously won 47 cinematic awards, and flopped at the box (something like 13 million domestic?) It was heralded by the movie illuminated, and yet hardly anyone heeded the call. Like Llewyn Davis’ life itself. For example, remember the moment at the private party, when Llewyn starts to play, and then he refuses to play anymore because it’s his job. It’s how he pays the bills. You see? The irony? Yes, it’s art. Yes, it’s meant to exult the spirit… and it is also supposed to pay the bills. You see?

The Ending of Inside Llewyn Davis Explained

Let’s cut straight to the point, Llewyn Davis is trapped. He’s caught in a ring of Dante’s Inferno solely focused on the gnashing of teeth and eternal torment of artists. Okay, so one of the seven rings of Dante’s Inferno is actually not dedicated to the pain and anguish of artists. But according to the Coen Brothers, Senor Alighieri should have crafted one. Dante though wasn’t up for this particular ring of hell. And it could be said that only Llewyn Davis could have created this particular holding tank of hell for himself.

Think about it – the Coen Brothers have crafted an “artist” specifically in order to investigate the various horrors and terrors involved in leaping off of the artistic gangplank. As we, the viewer, heads off into the repeating chaos of the films opening events, Llewyn returns again to the Gaslight and heckles the woman on stage. A folk singer… like himself. What is happening here? He’s heckling himself and his failures that have come with his previous week. He’s already decided he’s done. He’s headed back out to sea! Done. The guitar is going in a storage container somewhere. And he’s even failed at that! So here he is, heckling another folk singer.

Now, when we head back to Greenwich Village’s Gaslight Café, we watch Llewyn Davis perform his career ending act. And who is that really annoying act that takes the stage immediately after Davis is done and just upstaging him in every single way. Who is that in this picture, just taking the stage as Davis leaves the stage?

Yeah, that would be Bob Dylan. What is he doing here? What does it mean? It’s got to mean something, doesn’t it? Well, yeah, Bob Dylan lit the world’s music scene on fire. Turned things upside down. He changed how the world looked at Folk music. Bob Dylan became the folk superstar ubermensch that Llewyn Davis hoped he could be. Davis envisioned the folk revolution that Bob Dylan realized, but Davis had no part of it. “I don’t see a lot of money here.” was how his music was summed up when he played for Groseman in Chicago… Davis’ big, last ditch, play. Inside Llewyn Davis was fiction – but apparently, the Coen Brothers partially based Llewyn Davis on Dave Van Ronk… a full tilt folk singer who sat in the heart of the folk world. But who didn’t take folk mainstream like Bob Dylan did.

Worse? Dylan plays “Farewell,” which, is so very similar to his own song he just finished singing “Fare-thee-well.” I was actually CONVINCED it was actually a different rendition of the same song. I had to literally watch both performances over again, and type out every word they sing to validate they are different! hahah. And at this moment, Dylan is launching out into a very real, mind blowing, beginning. I mean, the guy became like The Beatles big. Yeah, Llewyn is toast.

So, let’s recap where Llewyn Davis is. Llewyn Davis’ singing partner and friend is dead. He committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington. Oh, right, he’s also just learned that he might have made his mortal enemy, Jean, pregnant… and he has paid to have the pregnancy terminated. And in so doing, has learned that he’s a father. Wait, what? That’s right, a previous abortion he’s paid for didn’t happen. And the child is probably 2 years old and living with its mother in Akron. His father? Is ailing… so ailing that he soiled himself while listening to his son sing. He’s attempted to ship back out, and even that failed. Every single thing that he has tried, every single one, has failed. Jean. Chicago. Shipping out. Nothing is working for Davis. But the real kick in the jaw? His choice to take the $200 payment instead of the ongoing royalties for his work on Jim’s (played by Justin Timberlake?!? hahah) song. The song that is going to be a huge hit. Failure. Failure. Mistake. Screwup. Failure. Failure. And the world is passing him by.

So I think that the movie is all about these seismic shifts that happen in the art world and the people that drive them from the inside out. It just so happens that Llewyn isn’t the catalyst that brings that change. Then if it’s a movie about these tectonic shifts, but not about the people that make them, then what is it really about? Many online are touting the fact that it’s a covert film, hailing the glory that is Bob Dylan, and the change that he brings to the world, and to music. I don’t buy that. We didn’t follow Dylan around this movie. We followed Llewyn around. Then what could it possibly be about?

Inside Llewyn Davis is about the everyman artist. The glory that is within so many unseen artisans. Yes, Davis may not be transforming the world of Folk Music anew. He may not actually be all that different than a dozen other singers of that era, but damn if that music isn’t perfection. Oscar Isaac’s breakout performance is a glorious thing to behold. There was so much work that went into making an authentic and fresh musician from that era. Heck, in order to make this nobody-folk-failure, the Coen Brothers brought in T Bone Burnett, who they worked with on their film “O Brother Where Art Thou?” with them. Literally, the only thing I remember about O Brother is the music. I mean, it was a Grammy-winning, enormously popular soundtrack after all. Not only that, but they also brought in Marcus Mumford, you know, from Mumford and Sons? Come on. That guy is a lyrical angel. And the music of the move is so fantastic that CBS Films created a featurette detailing out the making of the music in “Inside Llewyn Davis”. (Trailer below.) Now that’s a whole lot of work to craft and create a fictional washout character. So I’m confused, is this Davis guy a failure or a success then? EXACTLY. That’s the point of this movie.

Llewyn Davis is a glorious musician. He summons angels when he sings, and animals on hillsides everywhere stop chewing and listen. This much is a fact. I mean, this is the closest a movie can come to being a musical, without being a musical. Davis performs like what – 5 songs over the course of the movie? In their entirety! The Coen Brothers wouldn’t have included them if they weren’t exceptional. But as it is with the Coen Brothers’ films – quality can be the least important thing going for a movie in determining its success. It also requires public appeal. And to publicly appeal, you sort of need to be ready to pander. And by pander, I mean, sell out. hahahaha.

So while it is about art… it’s actually probably more about commercial viability and the fact that almost no one sees full blown success as an artist. To be an artist, means being controversial and being challenging. And yet, to sell one’s art takes another set of skills entirely. Bob Dylan realized this, and actually was called a sellout by the folk community eventually. He used ELECTRONIC INSTRUMENTS MAN!!! You know? These are different skills entirely. It’s more marketing and sales than it is art.

Movie Inside Llewyn Davis Is Impossible To Comprehend

Ultimately, I think the Coen Brothers are saying a lot of things with this fascinating movie Inside Llewyn Davis. But mainly, I think they are talking about the difficulty of crafting art, and selling it successfully to a world that is fickle beyond reason. Finding the right wave, and then riding it, is a really very difficult thing to pull off. Worse than lottery ticket difficult. And it has nothing to do with being a good artist. But more about how one is able to tickle the fancy of the masses. Llewyn Davis was an amazing artist. He lived a fascinating life and survived the tragic death of his partner all while crafting some really exceptional music. And yet his life was a horrible mess. Just a tragic failure from beginning to end. But that belittles his art? And here’s a hot take of the day – could it be that real art is the messy stuff that transcends popularity and salability? Worse? The stuff that sells?? Maybe that’s the stuff that is seriously suspect? Dunno. Going to have to go off and think about that one a bit longer. But there is something to that idea.

I loved the movie incredibly. And only because I really had to grapple with it to come away with an idea of what exactly was happening here. The Coen Brothers aren’t slouches, that is for sure, and they definitely were saying something really intentional here with this beautiful work of art. (Which is probably why it didn’t sell at the box office.) Better yet, you know the movie is a glorious work of art because it sticks with you – forces you to think about it. And I’m all the better for the haunting that it is doing in my brain. I’m really enjoying the Gordian knot that is Inside Llewyn Davis. I’ll probably still be thinking about this one for months to come, and I’ll be all the better for it.

Edited by: CY