Inside Llewyn Davis

What’s Missing ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ and ‘The Punk Singer’

Oscar Isaac as Llewyn Davis

Films like ‘Llewyn Davis’ make me particularly grateful for documentaries. Sini Anderson’s ‘The Punk Singer’ (disclaimer: I know Anderson slightly and produced one of her shows when she was with Sister Spit in the ’90s) is all about music and politics: feminism and women, while focusing on one person, Kathleen Hanna, formerly of the bands Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and current front-woman of The Julie Ruin.

‘Inside Llewyn Davis’: A Moving Tribute to Music While Transcending Gender Tropes

Inside Llewyn Davis Carey Mulligan 2

At first, Jean appears like a stereotypical shrew, a misogynistic trope. The shrew often serves the purpose to show us that the male lead is a put-upon nice guy. The intention is for her nastiness to reinforce our sympathy for him. But ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ differs in that we inevitably sympathize with Jean, or at the very least, we understand where she’s coming from. We understand her vitriol and frustration towards Llewyn. Jean’s role isn’t hollow. Beyond her rage and meanness, there’s a melancholic sadness behind her eyes. She embodies far more complexity than a mere trope.