Monday, November 9, 2015

TODAY'S NUGGET: Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) - "Lack of Sentimentality"

[Quick Summary: A talented 1960s folk singer struggles to stay afloat in NYC.]

I read this article that the Coens are sought for the "lack of sentimentality" in their writing.

Q: What is "lack of sentimentality"? 
A: I think it is writing about whatever is unpleasant, unflattering, dark, or stark, without trying to excuse or soften it.

Q: What does it look like on the page?
A: This script has it in spades:

- Llewyn Davis just can't get a break in the pre-Dylan era, before folk songs took off.
- He's earnest but makes some bad choices.
- He keeps moving forward, even in the worst of times.
- The tone is frank, non-judgmental.

The scene below has sympathy for Llewyn (who is concerned about Roland), but it is also a dispassionate record of what is happening (overdose).

ex. "BATHROOM

Llewyn emerges from his stall and goes to the other occupied stall. Roland Turner is partly visible lying on the floor. Part ofthe arm is visible: coat off, sleeve pushed up, hose wrapped.

He is face-up head toward us so that the top half of his face is visible. He is unconscious, eyes rolled up, sheened with sweat. He twitches."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: "Lack of sentimentality" doesn't mean laying out every gruesome detail. It walks the line between frankness and just enough rawness.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

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