Friday, 15 April 2016

Inside Llewyn Davis (4 Stars)

A man, a guitar, a cat, nowhere to live. Actually it's two cats. Maybe three. Llewyn Davis catches his friend's cat after it runs away when he opens the door. He brings it back, but when he gives it back to his friends they say it's the wrong cat, so he adopts it. He carries the cat with him when he hitch-hikes from New York to Chicago, but he abandons the cat half way. When he's driving back to New York he runs over a cat. It looks like the cat he abandoned, but that would be too much of a coincidence, wouldn't it?

Llewyn Davis is an unsuccessful folk singer in New York in 1961. His songs are quite good, but he doesn't have much of a stage presence and earns badly. He engages in couchsurfing. That's a word that I only learnt after watching this film. It refers to someone who has nowhere to live, so he does a round of his friends, sleeping on their couch for a few days, then moving to the next friend as soon as they get tired of him. It's a good way to live if you're a poor musician in an expensive city.

I don't like folk music much, but I enjoy the feeling of the folk era in New York City (mostly Greenwich Village) in the 1960's. It was a time of rebellion. The young were protesting against the old, and especially against being forced to fight in the Vietnam War. Young people sat in dingy cafes and hung on every word from the mouths of the new breed of folk singers. I might have been sitting with them if I'd been alive in that era. After all, the rock music that I love so much didn't exist then, it only emerged in the early 1970's.

I don't know if this film has a message. Probably not. But it's enjoyable as a snapshot of the folk music scene in 1961.

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