Llewyn Davis and P.L. Travers probably wouldn’t get along well. Davis is the down-on-his luck songwriter at the center of “Inside Llewyn Davis”; Travers is the real-life author of “Mary Poppins” who struggles with Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks.” Davis would think Travers’ greatest creation is a saccharine cog in the capitalist machine; she’d … well, she probably wouldn’t think of him at all.
The two of them, though, have more in common than one might think. Namely, they’re both difficult (to put it diplomatically) pains in the butt (to put it not-so- diplomatically).
It’s not a fact that all creative people have to be jerks, even though so many of them in the movies are; the tortured artist makes for a better script than the one who meets deadlines, keeps neat books and accepts edits gracefully.
Creative professions do lead to certain quirks, though. I once lived with another writer; it was great because he understood that you always need a pen within arm’s reach in case you got an idea. These days, someone takes all the pens I leave all over the house and puts them in something called a “cup,” which keeps all the pens on a crap-covered table called a “desk.” Handy, until I get an idea in the kitchen and all I can find is a green crayon and lip balm (it’s important to keep lip balms all over the house, too, including one in the pockets of the pants you send through the wash).
What both “Davis” and “Banks” get right is the pressure that comes from success, even small bits of it. Essentially, once you’ve brought it, you’re expected to bring that broughtitude again. And again, ideally. And then a few more times after that, and then every time you do what you do until you die.
I experience it on a smaller scale; if one column lights up Twitter but the next one doesn’t, there’s a little voice in my head that starts chanting “YOU SUCK! YOU SUCK! YOU SUCK!” P.L. Travers and Llewyn Davis have very little in common — except they’re both dealing with what happens if and when that voice gets a little too loud.