Opinion: Hate Lena Dunham? You’ll love Llewyn Davis

The eponymous hero of the Coen brothers’ latest film, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” is self-absorbed and aimless. He indulges in casual, careless sex, the consequences of which are inconvenient for him and dire for his female partners. He abuses his friends’ hospitality, wanders around in his underwear and loses cherished pets. The film is set in New York in 1961. If it were your sole source of information about that time and place, you might reasonably conclude that there were no nonwhite people living in New York City in 1961. One very minor character is Asian, but she merely serves as a target for bitter Llewyn’s scorn. The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane calls Llewyn “a grouch and an ingrate” whose “company can feel like a burden.” “The catalog of Llewyn’s lapses,” wrote The New York Times’ A.O. Scott, “fills the spectrum from casual bad manners to epic jerkiness.” Ian Jack of The Guardian wrote that he is “frankly dislikable” and New York’s David Edelstein dubbed him “an asshole.”
 

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Photo: HBO/Everett Collection; CBS Films/Everett Collection

Opinion: Hate Lena Dunham? You’ll love Llewyn Davis

The eponymous hero of the Coen brothers’ latest film, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” is self-absorbed and aimless. He indulges in casual, careless sex, the consequences of which are inconvenient for him and dire for his female partners. He abuses his friends’ hospitality, wanders around in his underwear and loses cherished pets. The film is set in New York in 1961. If it were your sole source of information about that time and place, you might reasonably conclude that there were no nonwhite people living in New York City in 1961. One very minor character is Asian, but she merely serves as a target for bitter Llewyn’s scorn. The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane calls Llewyn “a grouch and an ingrate” whose “company can feel like a burden.” “The catalog of Llewyn’s lapses,” wrote The New York Times’ A.O. Scott, “fills the spectrum from casual bad manners to epic jerkiness.” Ian Jack of The Guardian wrote that he is “frankly dislikable” and New York’s David Edelstein dubbed him “an asshole.”

 

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Photo: HBO/Everett Collection; CBS Films/Everett Collection