The Scumbag Llewyn Davis
I found a quote today while reading through a Q&A by one of my favorite writers FILM CRIT HULK, and it struck a chord with me.
“YOU DON’T WANT TO BE THE KIND OF PERSON SOME FEELS INDEBTED TO… YOU WANT TO BE THE KIND OF PERSON SOMEONE WOULD LOVE TO HELP.”
Llewyn Davis is, of course, typically the former. He is a burden on everyone around him, physically and emotionally. My fiancé was taken aback at my sympathetic write up of him, mentioning that most comments on the film see him as a total jerk. The characters of the film have different reactions to Llewyn. Davis’ contemporaries treat him from casual acceptance to contempt, but it’s the older couple living far removed from Greenwich Village that are always forgiving and accepting. Perhaps it’s because they’ve been around the block a few times, and understand that Llewyn is really in between a rock and a hard place. Both Llewyn and the couple reconcile at the end of the film over emotional events at a previous dinner party, recognizing they each were in the wrong. It’s the most calm, comforting part of the film, a place where both Llewyn and the audience can rest easy for a while. there might even be love there, but even saying such a thing out loud feels too sentimental for such a cold film.
Llewyn Davis, much like the film, resists an easy interpreation. He is not all good or all bad, everything is shades of grey. (Or perhaps in the spirit of this film, tan browns and flannel.) Everyone is complicated. And it’s that complexity of both the characters and film that lends to many a good reading and, hopefully, re-watching.