Please note this post discussion is a post discussion, therefore it’s full of spoilers it discloses information about the ENTIRE film (yes including the ending) and these following movies,Groundhog day (1993), Devil (2010).
So if you’ve not seen them it’s probably better not to read on..
The Coen’s deliver another poetic surreal drama in the guise of the melancholy comedy musical drama that is the life of Llewyn Davis, or at least a pivotal few days…
WHAT IS INSIDE LLEWYN?
It’s the obvious question right? No it isn’t but it makes for good movie chitchat. It’s just a title right, but any title about the forlorn Llewyn could have been chosen. So what does this film reveal about what is really inside Llewyn davis?! To be honest I don’t think that i have ever worked it out. Personally I see the film as a justification of the magic of the entire Greenwich Village folk seen as being “born” out of Llewyn. Bare with me, this is a far out idea. I mentioned it slightly in my review, but it seems like the pathetic llewyn is suffering as a mother would in childbirth a recurring theme in the movie, and fun as lot at the end Bob Dylan appears then he gets his final beatdown in the alleyway by the faceless hulk. Boom!! Folk Scene is here! So the birth of the folk scene was a baby inside Llewyn.. Yeah I told you the idea was far out.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CAT /CATS
Personally I can’t stand cats and they contributed to the only cringe worthy scenes in the film. But was the presence of the cat all that significant or just a Coen red herring?
The cat escapes at the beginning, Llewyn’s luck starts to change and go downhill not that he was flying high to start with. He ends up leaving the apartment and starts his journey chasing the cat. It’s alike the chasing of the white rabbit, down the hole Llewyn goes..
While having a caustic discussion with his ex he spots a cat, runs out and chases it, again getting out of his rut and back to his destiny.
Later on, it’s discovered that the cat is not the cat! How can the cat not be the cat!? Holy shit. Llewyn had gone down the wrong path, picked up the wrong cat, where is the real cat?! Whose cat had he stolen?? This scene was particularly funny and bizarre as Llewyn decides to kick off against an overly nice couple who ‘s couch he started out on, and in the melodramatics and whaling that concur it’s discovered that the kitty has the wrong tackle, oh shit not again dude.
Later on Llewyn is travelling with another cat? This one mimics his every move and is one of the best scenes in the film. I doubt it was planned but it’s simply magic, he ends up leaving the cat in the car, hitching a ride. While driving his ride, he almost hits another cat or the same cat? What’s going on?! This film has way too much pussy.
Llewyn assumes it’s the list cat and carries on. When he returns to his friends apartment their cat has returned and all is well. Them the movie starts to repeat itself…. But in this time around Llewyn stops the cat from escaping. And despite everything cycling around again… There is no destiny run from Llewyn.He doesn’t have a great adventure he just gets his ass slapped down.
It’s probably a red herring but… It’s an interesting one.
CURSED BY THE DEVIL?
Is Llewyn cursed?! It’s a little something that crops up in the movie that’s simply too hard to ignore.
Let’s play out this scenario, LLewyn is going through a rough time, more so than any mortal man. Now it’s not a black cat that has crossed his path but at first I thought the cat had carried away his luck when it darts out the door. Then John Goodman turns up in the guise of a eccentric jazz musician called Ronald Turner! He’s so very unusual and does threaten the young folk singer with a curse of bad luck. From that point on you can’t help wondering if the curse worked or if Goodman is actually the Devil! It’s a long shot but I’m just chucking it out there, he’s the most useless devil if he is one as he’s a fucking junkie who nearly OD’s.. But we can’t forget that the devil got caught stealing in Devil (2010). I quite like that Llewyn leaves him and the cat in the car when he legs it for his freedom.
But why does history start repeating!? Or does it??
The first time around we see the beating in the alleyway, cut scene llewyn wakes up and his life is a mystery then when we see the beatdown the second time around there are differences, the music being the significant one. But the scene continues. The first time i saw it I thought the beatdown guy was John Goodman at first. The cut scene is the most important part. it’s not a continuation. The coens don’t do anything by mistake and are very clever into grabbing your attention and hurling it around. Here’s what I think!
Ignoring the beginning.. Llewyn wakes up and then everything else runs up to that point where he gets the beatdown in the alley way, the beginning is merely a transition but not in a coherent theme, it’s a taste of whats to come, a very dramatic one, showing you to look out for this point. It’s an interesting way to introduce a character, check out this guy getting his ass whopped. then look at him being a loser and feel sorry for him, so why was he getting beat up he’s not that bad, he doesn’t deserve that.. then wham he’s a total tosser to the folk singer doing exactly the same thing as him, okay he’s had a bad week and was drunk but no call for that behavior man. and boom! payback and the end to a beautiful week. One other clue is the conversation about when llewyn is told he has a space at Papi’s to play a gig, he says he was there less than a month ago, if it is a loop then he would have been there less than a week ago.
I don’t think it’s a case of Groundhog day (1993) just some interesting cut work, for what reason I can’t work out.
Is Llewyn dead? I love dead characters so i try and play it all in, but I don’t think Llewyn died in the alleyway after his injuries although it could play into the the whole theme of redemption, after all he does seem to be living through, uncovering and facing all of his mistakes both past and present. I don’t think he passed away and this is some sort of redemption, I can see why some people have jumped to that conclusion, as there is a chance of him learning from mistakes and getting things right. You could also class it all as a vivid dream.
I dont see the film as carrying on in anyway, the luckless Llewyn has run his course and done his duty, I suppose future stories could illustrate him finding out more about being a father and take that route of him trying to do the right thing, although if his luck holds out then it might be just a tragic as this. the alternative is that he just bums around doing what he did in this movie and that doesn’t need to be repeated.
The Coen’s always find really strange pivotal points to write their movies around. Let’s face it stories only really work when something bad happens, but for llewyn… Everything bad happens!! While this is still very interesting it’s strange that so much has gone on that we discover by the way of off the cuff remarks, like Llewyn’s ex, the pregnancy of yet another ex and other fuck ups along the way. Maybe he was a different person then, or even further back when he was a sailor and decided to give it all up for the folk scene. There is so much backstory and character to this that it captures the imagination.
WHAT I LIKE
I’m slightly biased when it comes to the Coens as I adore a lot of their work, there are no prizes for working out that I’m not a fan of a lot of their comical work.. Still they have a lot of Je ne sai quoi and constantly astound me with movies that I adore without really understanding why. The appeal to my senses. Llewyn Davis, has this odd dreamlike state to it, often enough you’re brought back to reality with a slap of venom from the moody bitch of an ex girlfriend Jean (Carey Mulligan) or a quip from the know it all oversized John Goodman.
I love the trip up of the repeating history and potential I also devil character or curse involved. It’s just so detailed and well acted. The scenarios are surreal and just remarkably recognisable.
WHY IS LLEWYN A JERK
From the onset of the film Llewyn is subject to a run of bad luck, he gets his ass whooped at the beginning (end) and you start to feel sorry for him, until his past catches up and then you realise what a jerk he is. Half of me does wonder if it’s a continuation of his terrible mojo but there are certain things he could have handled better.
Get gets a chick pregnant and pays for the abortion then has nothing to do with her afterwards
He gets another chick pregnant and offers to pay for “another” abortion (he needs another form of family planning). He signs away the rights to a song that’s about to hit it big, and constantly insults innocent people around him.
At some points it’s really hard to watch Llewyn struggle against all odds, but as the obstacles start to mount against him he’s inner rage begins to grow slowly turning him into a jerk which in turn causes more stumbling blocks.
Overall I adore the film throughout, it’s a thrilling and beautiful drama with a hint of black comedy enough for a stickler like me to enjoy without any struggle.
Llewyn is kinda my hero, yes he’s flawed but he’s got a lot of heart. He did use the very last of his money to pay for an abortion to appease a girl who obviously hated him, he went to the ends of the earth to be recognised as a folk icon. He gets drunk and insults people, I don’t have to be drunk to insult people but I’d like to have a drink with Llewyn.
Overall the movie is golden from beginning to end, I honestly couldn’t stop watching and adore it as much as I adore a lot of the other Coen movies, (I’m feeling a list coming on here.. ). The film submerges you into a piece of history in a strange and surreal way. It’s filled with beautiful moments, and black comedy, just enough music to capture the folk scene but not enough to make it into a musical or a “show”.
LINK – Original review