Why is “Llewyn Davis” such a bummer?

What’s Missing Inside “Llewyn Davis”
Saturday, 18 January 2014 09:11By Aaron Leonard, Truthout | Film Review

The opening scene in the new effort by Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis, introduces us to our hero, such as he is, singing the old folk song, “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me.” It is, as we will learn, an unsubtle clue into the hopelessness at the heart of this film. This is the story of the hapless and fictional folk singer named Llewyn Davis, circa New York City 1961. He is performing at the threshold of what would become the great folk revival that swept the United States at the dawn of the 1960s. While that historical moment was one primed with anticipatory optimism, this film exists somewhere else.

What we have here is a study in perseverance for an artist at neither the top, nor the bottom, of his craft.

Unfortunately, the artist in question is someone of such character, that in the end we are left to wonder whether or not we care. On one level, you cannot fault the Coens for telling the story of a man who lives somewhere in between and doing it in a way that both recreates a world now gone and raises that world to the level of art in the uncanny way they are able to do. This is a Greenwich Village – and Morningside Heights – at once familiar but also dream-like. The problem is the nature of the dream.

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One thought on “Why is “Llewyn Davis” such a bummer?”

  1. Though I was able to see this film for free in Nov before it opened, the film was a complete waste of time. Don’t let the cute cat in the trailer/poster fool you: this is an emotional torture film, it was like being in a gritty, cigarette stained car windows with horrible people with horrible bad breath for 2 hours (John Goodman plays the part of a heroin addict half dead perfectly) but occasionally someone would take the guitar out and strum a few chords and sing badly.

    I especially hated the scene where he basically ends up throwing away the cat when he abandons the car in the middle of nowhere with John Goodman still snoring away. Horrible film. If you like to be depressed, go see it. It is a travesty of humanity overall and a mockery of folk singers from the 60s.

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