Should I Watch It? – Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

7.7/10 – IMDb
94% – Rotten Tomatoes


We tend to be pretty friendly around here regarding movies, good or bad or otherwise, so you probably expect a positive response to a film with general reviews as supportive as those reflected in the numbers above. I, however, was not a big fan of Llewyn. The Coen brothers certainly have my respect, though I won’t pretend to be the biggest fan of their movies, and I expected a little more out of this one. Oscar Isaac gives a fantastic performance, one that probably would have earned him an Oscar nomination most years, and Carey Mulligan also stands out, albeit in an angry and hollow role. There are positives and negatives to the movie, but I fear our system will not be kind to it…


Should I pay to see it?
I did. I don’t quite feel comfortable giving a solid no, but there are probably many other more exciting choices for you out there, especially with a ton of Oscar-nominated films moving towards Netflix, OnDemand, and other mediums. As I said, Oscar Isaac’s voice and gruffness make for an impressive breakout performance, but as I see it people like Llewyn who hold things in and wallow in their suffering make for soulful, entertaining musicians but leave a lot to be desired as movie characters. His commitment — or stubbornness, whatever you want to call it — to his craft pushes him towards frustration and stagnancy. If you’ve drained your awards season well and need a change of pace (a loss of pace entirely), give Llewyn a shot. Otherwise, your money is better spent elsewhere.

The cat looks for an escape, but Llewyn seems unable to do so.

Could I watch it on a date?
Uhhhhh. Unless you’re trying to end the relationship, or perhaps to show someone that your partnership could be worse, I do not condone watching. Llewyn maybe finds some trace of hope in the film’s final moments, but you’re still probably going to end up bummed out, wishing there had been more Justin Timberlake and John Goodman. Llewyn spends most of the movie freezing, broke, or chasing a cat. There is some great music and the script is strong throughout, but this does not a date movie make, not that the Coen brothers were trying to provide us with a romantic evening.

Isaac, Timberlake, and Adam Drive make catchy tunes, but something’s missing.


Could I watch it with my mother?


Probably a better option than with your better half, but I still can’t give a ringing endorsement. Isaac and Mulligan stand out, Timberlake sings pretty, and Garrett Hedlund is sad because he couldn’t hold on to the football, but the sum of the parts add up to something far greater than the film as a whole. Folk music may or may not set your heart aflutter, but even the beautiful tunes showcased in the movie can’t make up for the flatness of the rest of the film. If your mother is like mine, she’ll probably fall asleep watching, so you may be better off watching alone, with friends, or not at all.

Trudging on in the cold, admirable but not very entertaining.

If you like the stories told by folk musicians, and the feelings they make you feel, maybe you’ll enjoy the movie, but I think you’re better off just listening to the soundtrack or Sigh No More. Marcus Mumford, Isaac, Timberlake, and others make beautiful music, and the Coen brothers obviously know how to make a movie, but even the best can’t always get the job done.

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About Author: Brian McMahon

Brian is an author and co-founder of GoodWillWatching. He likes to write and is deathly afraid of bugs. His Great American Novel, not yet titled or existent, will be shocking the world some time or another. He once stayed up for two days straight because of poor information regarding the arrival of Halley’s Comet, which was not due for approximately 57 years. You can follow him @bm1313 on Twitter, or in real life from a safe distance.