Talented but prickly musician Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) tries to make it on the folk scene in 1961 New York.
Llewyn is so stubbornly independent and wilfully self-sabotaging that you feel he can’t possibly win your sympathy but, as he stumbles from one mishap to another, he somehow gets under your skin in the Coen Brothers’ deftly observed, affecting and slyly funny comedy.
The music – supervised by T Bone Burnett and Marcus Mumford – is pitch perfect and the hilariously dotty novelty song Please Mr Kennedy will leave you smiling and humming.
Isaac is excellent and so are folk-singing couple Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan, who is Davis’ furiously sour, vitriol-spitting former lover, John Goodman as a sneering junkie jazz man and Adam Driver as a goofy urban cowboy.
However, it is the wandering ginger cat whose fate becomes entwined with Llewyn that proves the film’s biggest scene-stealer.