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Review: 'Inside Llewyn Davis'

December 20, 2013 3:37 p.m.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews the new Coen film, "Inside Llewyn Davis."

Related Story: Review: 'Inside Llewyn Davis'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: The new Coen brothers film “Inside Llewyn Davis” opens this weekend at Landmark. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando can’t decide what to make of it.

LLEWYN (ba).wav 1:16

Usually I need to see a Coen brothers film a couple times before reaching a final verdict. I‘ve seen “Inside Llewyn Davis” twice and I still feel ambivalent toward this tale of a down-on-his-luck musician.

CLIP What did you say you played?... folk music… Oh I thought you said you were a musician.

It’s an impeccably made film – well acted, shot with a bleak beauty, and boasting sharp dialogue. Yet I’m at a loss for why they made it. It has the foreboding tone of A Serious Man and looks to the creative process as in Barton Fink but its central character is simply someone I don’t care about. I don’t mind a character that’s unlikable or unsympathetic but I do need to care enough about what happens to him to remain engaged in the story and Llweyn Davis doesn’t do it for me. He’s a whiny jerk whose sensitive folk music is a stark contrast to who he is.

CLIP you probably heard that one before, it’s was never new and it never gets old because it’s a folk song.

In the end, I can admire “Inside Llewyn Davis” for its craft but unlike the Coen films “Miller’s Crossing,” “Fargo,” and “The Big Lebowski” that I can watch endlessly -- I have little desire to ever see this one again. It feels like the Coens are playing a practical joke on me, giving me something shiny and pretty but ultimately worthless.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.