Inside Llewyn Davis is the newest, long-awaited feather in the Coen brothers’ collaborative cap. Set in 1961, it follows a week in the life of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) – a struggling folk musician who survives by the kindness of friends. Isaac’s supporting cast include Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund and even Justin Timberlake.
The amount of excitement I had for this film is indescribable. And it didn’t disappoint – Llewyn Davis is one of the Coen brothers’ greatest characters; he is at once likeable and unlikeable, more the victim than the hero – hauntingly reminiscent of the titular character in their earlier film, Barton Fink. Oscar Isaac’s performance in capturing this ambiguity of character is nothing short of captivating, in my opinion. Llewyn’s character really is the centre of the film – the nature of the plot is that it provides something of a snapshot of this man’s life and one of the struggles of unsuccessful artists of all kinds. In this respect, the supporting characters tend to ‘orbit’ Llewyn, and are not given as much screen time as I expected. But to be honest, this works so well with the brand of selfishness that Llewyn’s character holds, and helps to represent his life better. The Coen’s even mentioned that they attempted to add more of a plot to the film by introducing the cat – that Llewyn lets loose near the start of the film, and becomes a mix of companion and burden to the struggling musician. The soundtrack deserves some special mention – with renditions of classic folk songs played by members of the cast. Honestly, Oscar Isaac’s versions of some of these songs are pretty damn inspiring.
Yes, it’s a bit strange in some places. But this is the Coen’s we’re talking about, and I honestly don’t think it would have the same impact without these odd parts – you’ll know it when you see it. The Coen’s really have come back on golden form, and I cannot recommend enough that you go and watch this film.