What’s not to love about “Inside Llewyn Davis?” For starters, there’s plenty of folk music. Yes, I said folk music, but this is some interesting and often dark stuff sung by such eclectic performers as Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan and titular star Oscar Isaac. There’s also unexpected comedy, violence and a fascinating cat. Just about everything in the movie is unexpected in this highly enjoyable must-see new release DVD that transcends both the character study and art film genres it works within.
The Coen Brothers (“Fargo,” “The Big Lebowski”) have crafted yet another instant offbeat classic with this look at a below struggling folk singer in 1961 Greenwich Village. Llewyn Davis (Isaac) once cut an album as half of a duo, but now he’s haunted and homeless without so much as a proper winter coat. He struggles to find slim gigs by day and spends the night on the sofas of various friends, acquaintances, and fellow folk singers he bumps into. He finds himself saddled with a cat after he accidently locks the two of them out of a friend’s apartment.
It’s the beginning of a wild personal journey that revisits broken relationships, reveals a secret about his former partner and that makes Davis face the cold hard truth about his career. It also leads him to a crazy road trip with a bizarre double cane carrying character named Roland Turner, played by Coen favorite John Goodman in a beautifully eccentric performance. It’s an unforgettably funny and disturbing experience that ultimately leads Davis to his heartbreaking final hope for success.
This is a star-making breakout role for Oscar Isaac who embodies the role with absolute authenticity and perfection. He’s a tormented self-centered cad oblivious of other people’s feelings or the wreckage left in his wake who, in spite of himself, manages to be forgivably likeable and amusing. His musicianship is outstanding and he sings with a voice that comes from deep within his soul. Like the characters that cross his path we love him and hate him and hope he can turn things around.
“Inside Llewyn Davis” is practically a black-and-white color film. It’s cold and wet and as dismal looking as it main character. Yet this is Coen Brothers country. It’s also very funny, touching, shocking and most of all never boring or predictable. It’s everything you’d expect and more from the unique visions of these masterful moviemakers.