On the surface, and in consideration of the Coen brothers’ other films, “Inside Llewyn Davis” seems to be a comedy. It places the titular character, Llewyn (Oscar Isaac), in a number of strange and awkward situations that elicit equally bizarre responses from him. The comedy, though, acts to cut through to and highlight the real core of the film: that despite Llewyn’s obvious talent, he is ultimately a failure.
The Coen brothers smartly bleach the film of its color, opting to present us with a weathered, anaemic picture of ‘60s New York. Even though Llewyn is presented as hubristic and unlikeable, as exemplified in his exchanges with ex-girlfriend Jean (Carey Mulligan), we still see him as a sympathetic, pitiful figure. Therein lies the tragedy of a talented man consigning himself to a world of artistic invisibility.
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