Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

I’m never quite sure what to expect of the Coen Brothers, I must admit that I saw Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) when it first came out, and I didn’t really like it. But, as a UK script consultantscript writer for hire and script doctor I recognised the great writing, but wasn’t sure that I felt anything for Llewyn himself, or what the actual point was?

Returning to the film five years later, I watched it three consecutive nights in a row recently. The wheel has turned turn for me. My initial assessment left me feeling that Llewyn is too unsympathetic… But is he?

Does Llewyn just appear unsympathetic, AND is that the point?  Are the Coens, saying look at this awful guy? This loser? Watch him… And then they subtly show that the character is richer than that, and for me at least, on the fourth viewing I’d even argue that I’ve turned 360 degrees on my first assessment. Llewyn is actually the only person in the film, with any real values.  And maybe, that is his downfall, and why he appears so unsympathetic…  I’ve gone from feeling nothing much for the character to finding him a full blown tragic hero.

Still, this is an odd game to play with an audience.  And while I didn’t read enough into the character or the performance or the script on first viewing, maybe I’m reading far too much into now. But, hell… It’s the Coen Brothers…

But, this is why we like films; this is why we tell stories. Are films are a mirror that we look into? Over five years later, the mirror (or screen) reflects back the same person, but different?  The film hasn’t changed, but have I?

Maybe, I’ve come across this before, some films you grow into, the same with books and music. And some you grow out of…

Some stories and characters come ahead of their time, they float around in the ether until they glide down like Mary Poppins and find themselves sitting suddenly in the right place at the right time. For me, I keep watching the film now, hoping Llewyn gets a break, but knowing, how many times I watch it, that he never will…

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire  and script doctor for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on or hire him on Peopleperhour

His directorial debut Markham will be released in 2019.