One of the true joys of watching a Coen Brothers film, is getting to witness the sheer mastery they have over their craft. By this, I mean the way nothing seems to be out of place. No shot or scene seems unnecessary and everything seems to happen organically regardless of how madcap or messy the story gets. On the surface, the story of Inside Lleywn Davis is quite simple. We follow Davis through a week in his life which makes it quite easy to keep track of the story. Admittedly his life happens to be quite messy but there is no idiosyncrasy or twist present in the story. We move from scene to scene and we witness Davis interact with various people. Through these interactions, we get to learn about Davis as a person. We get to learn about how others perceive him and how he perceives the outside world. Though he himself has a few unsavory traits, he does make us root for him. This is in large part due to the performance of Oscar Isaac.
The Coen Brothers show his alienation from the world through their framing. Even when he is with people it looks like he’s away from them. Take the above image for example, Carey Mulligan’s character is talking to Davis but she doesn’t want to talk with him. This is a really neat way of showing how lonely he is. This loneliness, the one you feel even when you’re around people is probably the worst kind of loneliness. It can be argued that even when people try to be nice to Davis, he seems to push them away. So is it his fault or do others treat him badly ? That’s a judgement for you to make.
I feel in many ways that this is a man who is really angry at the world and life in general because of the hand that he has been dealt. But the anger doesn’t bubble out in some grand way. Rather, it simply festers inside him and he has no real outlet to express it. His frustration with others and more importantly himself causes even more problems. Throughout the film, he does not receive two aspects of life that are essential to living: love and respect. So even when he does get glimpses of it, he doesn’t know how to react to it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is a depressing film but it certainly makes you feel the many hardships that life throws at Davis. And when we face these hardships, sometimes we know what to do, sometimes we don’t, but ultimately, we keep soldiering on because deep down, whether we like it or not, life IS hard.
Until next time, bye.