It’s been my opinion since first seeing Inside Llewyn Davis at the New York Film Festival in 2013 that it is the best film to be released yet by Joel and Ethan Coen, edging out major competition from Fargo and The Big Lebowski to Barton Fink and No Country for Old Men. So, it makes sense that the film, which stars Oscar Isaac as the titular folk singer, who is going through a bit of an existential crisis in the film, would be the first film by the Coen brothers to get a proper Blu-ray release from the venerable Criterion Collection. As always, the Criterion package is strewn with intensely relevant supplemental materials, and in this particular case, none is more enticing than a video interview between the filmmakers and Guillermo del Toro, one of their more well-known fans. The entire conversation on the disc goes on for 40 minutes, but we got a small taste this morning, which shows the three filmmakers discussing the structure of the film and the mystery of Isaac’s character. Check out the clip right below:
It’s fascinating that the Coens bring up Miller’s Crossing in the discussion, specifically the personage of Gabriel Byrne‘s cold, scheming gangster, Tom Reagan, as it is, indeed, another one of their more enigmatic characters. One might argue that Javier Bardem‘s Anton Chiguhr in No Country for Old Men and Peter Stormare‘s Gaear Grimsrud in Fargo are similarly hard to pin down, but they’re not quite as complex, more typified by a sort of indifferent evil. Tom and Llewyn have impulses that seem to be well-meaning, if not exactly altruistic, but trouble always finds them and tosses their life up into a frenzy. In the case of Inside Llewyn Davis, this consistent pull toward bad luck gives the film a rare sort of melancholy, one that avoids sentimentality and pity, as well as outright cynicism, to find a strange, unmistakable truth about the emotional bruises and physical suffering of life as a human or, even worse, an artist.