When the shadow swallows him into the crowd, when the silhouette of the unseen being, beating Llewyn in the dark alley on a rainy night after the gig, you kind of know that this is not going to be a happy success story and yes, it isn’t. But I loved every bit of it I don’t know how to start talking about it so I will.
This is about a battered singer, still living between the stories and the memories of his partners’ death. But the story of Mike is never told. In a direct sense at least, and yet you feel his presence of him all over the place, from the people around Llewyn, from his music, from his voice and the way he would sing and the reason why he is still singing after everything. And there comes the ginger cat, the cat of the professor, and somehow it ends up with Llewyn, and then becomes part of himself. And as the film goes along, you start to realise that maybe, this cat is sort of Mike, not his reincarnation but like just his presence, and then you feel, yes, it is Mike, he lets you see through, he connects you with the world where you are too stubborn or too tired to try and see, because you don’t seem get along with people as much but you are, and because you sort of know. And now, you’re missing Mike as much as Llewyn is and it feels weird because he never comes out but he’s there anyway.
A lot happens on the course of few days, he comes across people that he thought he would never see again, he meets different artists who are struggling in their own way, living in this hard world together, and it snows and rains and you get your precious stuff thrown out many many times but you just keep singing anyways, and you keep opening that guitar case and you know as long as you do, it’s all somehow going to be okay and that for-no-reason assurance where the heart gets and that’s why I love this so much, and because he can never really give up and live on with the memories, no matter what, the good and the bad, he keeps it all.
And that’ why he becomes the artist that he is, as well as one who can truly understand the struggle of other fellow artists. Although the period of the story is short, it captures, and is about, the departure of Llewyn from one place to another place, a beginning of Llewyn Davis as an artist, a musician, and one that keeps living and just loves life anyway, shrugs and sings despite everything. Narrow corridor, take you through the journey, it lets you see through like a telescope, all the complicated hearts, small and big, something, a sound waiting at the end of the hallway.
side note: This film uses some essence and character from a memoir “The Mayor of MacDougal Street” by folk singer Dave Van Ronk. He played an important role in the emerging of folk music in the 60s, including association with Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.
Japanese review can be read at インサイド・ルーウィン・デイヴィス 名もなき男の歌
Director Ethan Coen, Joel Coen Screenwriter Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Cast Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver, Ethan Phillips
Year 2013 Runtime 104 min