Inside Llewyn Davis is one of those indie films that you either love – or don’t. I wanted to. But I didn’t. Fans of folk music and the Coen Brothers will surely appreciate the film’s soundtrack and gritty portrayal of a week in the life of a young folk singer in Greenwich Village in 1961. But others may find it kind of slow and depressing.
Oscar Isaac is awkwardly compelling as Llewyn Davis, a couch-surfing musician struggling to make it in the music world without sacrificing his craft – such as he defines it. His weeklong personal and professional journey takes him from the Village, to an empty club in Chicago to audition for a music mogul, and then back again – to the people and places that he knows best. For better or for worse.
The supporting cast includes Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan (who can actually sing quite well!) as a couple of Llewyn’s married friends and fellow folk singers whose apartment is a popular crash-pad; Ethan Phillips and Robin Bartlett as Mitch and Lillian Gorfein, a pair of academics on the Upper West Side who like claiming Llewyn as their “folk singer friend”; John Goodman as an eccentric, drug-addled jazz musician that Llewyn hooks up with for a bizarre roadtrip to Chicago; and a couple of cats.
Bottom line: This film is quirky drama with an excellent folk-music soundtrack courtesy of the fourth collaboration of the Coen Brothers and music producer T Bone Burnett. But it’s not for everyone.