At the exact moment the final credits rolled, leading man Oscar Issac scurried from the back of the theatre to discuss his newest film, Inside Llewyn Davis. And much to the surprise of the audience members, the handsome clean-shaven actor resembled nothing of his shaggy and depleted onscreen persona. Issac talked at length about famed sibling directors Joel and Ethan Coen's latest offering and the warm reception it received earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The multi-talented actor/musician expressed that, at Cannes, the crowd just "got it". Much like the woes and hardships prevalent in 1960s American folk songs, the Coens mirror their main character's life to the same brand of music that flows naturally from his lethargic body. It's clever and it's creative, but its also uninspired.
Lleywn Davis (Oscar Issac) is a struggling folk musician living in New York at the start of the 1960s. While spending night to night crashing on the couches of various acquaintances and friends, Llewyn makes one last push at jump-starting his career before he decides to walk away from it all. But no matter how skilled and talented the performer truly is, Llewyn appears to be his own biggest hurdle.
There's a somber and sorrowful ambiance surrounding Inside Llewyn Davis, something that's both elegant and depressing all at the same time. Like a magnet, the title character attracts each and every hardship that he encounters. Yet, Llewyn is still shown nonchalantly laughing off the proposed notion that he welcomes these burdens. You see, it's very important to remember that Llewyn is an artist, perhaps even ahead of his time. His perspective on life and music is slightly off-center, which makes for a remarkably fascinating, but not always likable, character. Thankfully, the Coens bring Drive's Oscar Issac to the stage, where he delivers a knockout performance that provides buoyancy to the film. During the periodic moments where Inside Llewyn Davis struggles to thrill the audience, Issac never disappoints. He trudges on, just like his character stomping through the frigid Chicago snow. Although the feature feels more like a mediocre effort from a Coen brothers standpoint, Inside Llewyn Davis still manages to be beautifully filmed and superbly acted. Both of which are regular staples in Joel and Ethan's long list of accomplished work.
While the Coens have obviously mastered the craft of storytelling, Inside Llewyn Davis has an heir of incompleteness. The tale's metaphoric foundation and soulful delivery are enough to keep it afloat, but the picture lacks resolve and closure. Despite the rumblings regarding Joel and Ethan's ineffective endings that have been heard throughout their brilliant careers, Inside Llewyn Davis is definitely worthy of such criticism. Don't get me wrong, I completely understand the clever purpose behind a final Bob Dylan reference and the slamming of the barred door leading into the dark alleyway. However, I envisioned a bleaker more indelicate conclusion, a place the siblings clearly weren't willing to go. Occasionally wading through a tiresome and exhausting expedition en route to an unsatisfying resolution, Inside Llewyn Davis suffers from a few self-inflicted limitations.
Trapped in the midst of a cinematic year that feels so feeble in comparison to 2012, all eyes shifted to the Coen brothers. Looking for some film, any film, to run away with this awards season race, it's suddenly apparent that Inside Llewyn Davis isn't "the one". But in conjunction with a collection of fine roles from Oscar Issac, Carey Mulligan and many more, a solid humor-induced script and a smattering of phenomenal live-music performances help guide you along Llewyn's bumpy journey.