Inside Llewyn Davis

Like Once, the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis stops dead every moment it lingers on one of its stunning musical performances. They are, literally, show-stopping. And it’s through them that we learn most about Llewyn Davis’s soul. Like the best of their creations, he is flawed: a man with an over-inflated ego, little gratitude for those helping him out and an entirely self-defeating attitude to life and work. You should hate him. But when he sings…

This is surely the brothers’ best work in years, imbued with that particular Coen Tone that seems to pervade most of their work, but that hasn’t been this unfiltered in a long time. There’s truth as much as fantasy; drama in balance with comedy. Few filmmakers have this sort of skill in baking highly incompatible ingredients into a whole with such satisfying results. It has something to say to any of us who’ve had a dream and let life get in the way, but it is definitive for any artist whose drive to persevere demands a wanton disregard for practical sense.

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