Deftly observed, touchingly melancholy and slyly funny, Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers’ comedy-drama about a talented but prickly musician trying to make it on the folk scene in wintry 1961 New York is surprisingly affecting given the ornery nature of its protagonist.
Oscar Isaac’s Llewyn is so stubbornly independent, so wilfully self-sabotaging, that you feel he can’t possibly win your sympathy, but almost imperceptibly, as he stumbles from one mishap to another, he somehow gets under your skin.
The music – supervised by T Bone Burnett and Marcus Mumford – is pitch perfect throughout, but so are the performances from Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan’s folk-singing couple (the latter also being Llewyn’s furiously sour, vitriol-spitting former lover) to John Goodman’s sneering junkie jazzman and Adam Driver’s goofy urban cowboy.
Yet it’s the straying ginger cat whose fate becomes entwined with Llewyn’s who proves the film’s biggest scene-stealer. There’s less satire than you’d expect, but the hilariously dotty novelty song ‘Please Mr Kennedy’ will leave you smiling and humming.
Certificate 15. Runtime 100 mins. Directors Joel Coen, Ethan Coen.
Released on Blu-ray and DVD by StudioCanal.
If you are a fan of the movie and its music you will want to check out Another Day, Another Time – Celebrating The Music Of Inside Llewyn Davis, also released on Blu-ray and DVD by StudioCanal, a concert featuring live performances of the film’s music, as well as songs from the early 1960s.
Performers include the Avett Brothers, Joan Baez, Dave Rawlings Machine, Rhiannon Giddens, Lake Street Dive, Colin Meloy, The Milk Carton Kids, Marcus Mumford, Punch Brothers, Patti Smith, Willie Watson, Gillian Welch, and Jack White, as well as the star of the film Oscar Isaac.
To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.