WRITTEN BY: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
DIRECTED BY: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
STARRING: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund
RATING: 4.5 stars
Inside Llewyn Davis could easily be made into a play – it is a fascinating character study that pulls you in to the story, which is essentially about an anti-hero dreaming of success in the music industry. The film chronicles a week in the life of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a young folk singer living in Greenwich Village in 1961. The protagonist is down on his luck and struggling to make ends meet, bouncing around from couch to couch and inevitably alienating the only few friends he has with his angst selfishness.
While the film is a drama, there are also humorous moments generated by natural real-life funny moments such as Llewyn's struggle to care for a cat and return it to its owners. There is also a very funny scene involving a song recording session.
Isaac is a rare talent with the ability to sing beautifully and act well. It is great to see him finally shine in a leading role after so many supporting roles in recent years. Joel and Ethan Coen have taken full advantage of Isaac's skills, getting him to sing songs in their entirety. Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake play Jean and Jim – a singing duo and couple who let Llewyn sleep on their couch. Jean had an affair with Llewyn and is pregnant with his child. She is one of the most interesting supporting characters and Mulligan is great in the role. Timberlake also seems comfortable in a singing role. John Goodman and Garrett Hedlund also have small but intriguing parts. The film is all about Llewyn, but I wanted to know more about their characters.
Ultimately, Inside Llewyn Davis depicts a fascinating and vulnerable character trying to find his way in the world, and that is something we can all relate to.