Inside Llewyn Davis Might Be the Best Coen Brothers Movie Yet

<I>Inside Llewyn Davis</I> Might Be the Best Coen Brothers Movie Yet

Folk music is supposed to be the music of the people. Yet at the heart of Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis, set in New York in the winter of 1961, is a folksinger with no feeling for people. Llewyn Davis, played by Oscar Isaac, is a broke, rumpled moocher who drifts from couch to couch until there are no couches left — either by drinking too much and getting rude or simply by opening his mouth to let his hostile thoughts flow out, he has a talent for alienating every friend he's got. He's also a gifted singer, the remaining half of a semi-successful duo that has broken apart with no hope of reuniting, but it's clear he's not going to be a hitmaker — the material he chooses leans toward traditional weepers about mourning dead lovers or ballads about young boys heading off to sea, music carried to America from the dark soul of the British Isles. If Llewyn had a bell, he most definitely would not ring it in the morning; he'd be too hungover, or at least just too pissed off at the world.

Llewyn is in many ways a dreadful human being, but you can't turn away from him. The Coens seem to love him, too: Inside Llewyn Davis is the warmest picture they've ever made, and though it will never attract the cultlike adoration of The Big Lebowski and Fargo, or earn the serious-lit-adaptation accolades of No Country for Old Men, it's possibly their best. Taking place over just a few days, it evokes a fleeting time, place, and vibe: The Village folk scene of the early 1960s, anchored around a few cavelike, no-frills clubs, was changed forever once Bob Dylan set foot on it — he was too explosive for it to contain him. But before that, in the heyday of Dave Van Ronk, a scruffy folk luminary who never became a true star, it was much more intimate. That pre-Dylan world, the setting for Inside Llewyn Davis, may be very small, but Llewyn is lost in it.

In the opening scene, Llewyn gets beaten up — for reasons that aren't clear until the end — in the alley behind one of the little clubs he's just played. Shortly thereafter, he loses a cat belonging to the friends who have generously put him up for a night, a lovely marmalade fellow with a question mark for a tail. And when he shows up at the doorstep of another friend, fellow folk singer Jean (Carey Mulligan), we get an even better sense of his ability to alienate people. She's furious, a thundercloud in a turtleneck and shaggy blunt bangs. As it turns out, even though she's the live-in (and singing) partner of another friend (played, wonderfully, by a super-earnest Justin Timberlake), she and Llewyn have a history. You can see why: Llewyn is devastatingly handsome in a Sephardic way, the kind of damaged goods some women can't help falling for. But Jean need only lay eyes on him before cutting him dead — she takes just like a woman, yes she does.

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Location Info

Map

AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13‎

1998 Broadway
New York, NY 10023

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: West 60s

Regal Union Square Stadium 14

850 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Union Square

Details

Inside Llewyn Davis
Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
CBS Films
Opens December 6, AMC Loews Lincoln Square and Regal Union Square



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Llewyn has already screwed everything up. Why stop now? Though Inside Llewyn Davis is essentially a New York movie, in a desperate effort to grab the attention of a hotshot record producer (F. Murray Abraham in a beatnik goatee), Llewyn takes a road trip to Chicago, hitching a ride with a surly big-daddy jazz cat (John Goodman) and his too-cool-for-school minder (Garret Hedlund). But Llewyn's real odyssey takes place deep inside: As Isaac plays him, he's a punky lost lamb in need of saving, though no one can get close enough to do it; his eyes say "come closer" even as he's kicking away mightily. He's impatient with stupidity, both real and perceived. But he has a capacity for tenderness, too. It's certainly there in his singing — Isaac does his own, in a voice that's dusky and sad but also luminous as the moon. He's a character in mourning, both for another person and for lost parts of himself. The latter are harder to get over.

Inside Llewyn Davis gets everything softly, quietly right. T-Bone Burnett supervised the music, and it never sounds as if it's been lifted out of some dusty vault — it's alive. Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel gives us a half-tarnished, half-burnished vision of early 1960s New York, just dreamy enough, rather than laden with false nostalgia. The movie features one of the finest marmalade-cat performances since The Long Goodbye. (Technically, we're talking about several cats, but let's look the other way for the sake of movie magic.) And although the Coens are consummate craftsmen, they don't always show the lightness of touch or the depth of feeling they do here. Llewyn is suffering, and though we can't forsake him, it's hard not to laugh at his terrible misadventures. He's behaving badly in a typically New York kind of way, fumbling his way through his stress. Intentionally or otherwise, the Coens might be channeling the Hal Ashby of The Landlord, or Next Stop, Greenwich Village–era Paul Mazursky. Whatever they're doing, it's remarkable — cockeyed humanism at its best.

Credit: CBS Films

Cutline: Bringing It All Back Home: Oscar Isaac and friend

 
My Voice Nation Help
91642 comments
damla
damla

Bu arada Adam Driver sağolsun, farkettim ki "Inside Llewyn Davis" bende asla iz bırakmamış.

aidan.
aidan.

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS IS ON NETFLIX DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND WATCH IT

Matt
Matt

I'm pretty excited bc I got The Way Way Back and Inside Llewyn Davis today.

sama war
sama war

Coen brothers are constantly amazing. Inside Llewyn Davis so damn good so far.

55 Grade Dad.
55 Grade Dad.

It's beautiful. RT @emilyg819: Inside Llewyn Davis is on netflix you people dont have excuses anymore

emily
emily

Inside Llewyn Davis is on netflix you people dont have excuses anymore

Caleb Pitts
Caleb Pitts

Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack is on par with O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

rei ✡ひよこ
rei ✡ひよこ

ダメ男の側にいたのはお酒でもなく、女でもなく、一匹の猫だった。不幸で地味なストーリーだけど、最初と最後のガスライトカフェシーンのライブが良すぎてグッとくる。音楽と猫好きにはタマラナイ作品でした🐱Inside Llewyn Davis🐱 pic.twitter.com/B9Z8nCSB4i

hannah
hannah

inside llewyn davis is kind of boring but i mean the soundtrack is really good

Nathan Kelly
Nathan Kelly

Inside Llewyn Davis is on netflix! Can they just go ahead and put all of the Coen brothers movies on here?

Alanna
Alanna

Inside Llewyn Davis: ever-dreamy Oscar Isaac as asshole 60s folk singer. Actors from Girls. A hilarious campy song. Is this Groundhog Day?

Becca
Becca

Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack is just my life 🎧😭😍🙏🙌

sufia
sufia

Her and Inside Llewyn Davis are both playing for free at the open air cinema park in Copenhagen on August 10th and 11th.

Tom Hodgson
Tom Hodgson

Love most of the Coen Brothers' films (MILLER'S CROSSING in particular) but INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS is a yawn-fest

Jack Hemsworth
Jack Hemsworth

Just watched Inside Llewyn Davis again, one of my absolute all time favourite films

Rhysssssssss
Rhysssssssss

The Acting in Inside llewyn davis is just fucking superb.

Darth Elvis
Darth Elvis

Just watched Inside Llewyn Davis, makes me even more excited for Episode VII! Great performances.

Ali Rahimli
Ali Rahimli

Inside Llewyn Davis (Sen Şarkılarını Söyle) “Sen Şarkılarını Söyle”yi biraz da yas sürecine dair, eskiye... fb.me/3o0yp3Bak

Carlos Helí
Carlos Helí

inside llewyn davis, mmm... un café cargadito pero frío.

✿rachel✿
✿rachel✿

maybe they saw my tweet about inside llewyn davis and thought it was about sex

✿rachel✿
✿rachel✿

i haven't listened to the inside llewyn davis soundtrack in what feels like a month i need to remedy this situation

Del
Del

Really need to see 'Inside Llewyn Davis'..

Kristen
Kristen

*watches Coen brothers movie* *immediately has to watch Inside Llewyn Davis afterwards*

Matthew Jay
Matthew Jay

If you're a performer, artist or any kind of creative Inside Llewyn Davis is the scariest movie ever made.

Le Yéti
Le Yéti

Inside Llewyn Davis came out just when I had big doubts about my future as an "artist" (I don't like that word). It moved me deeply.

Le Yéti
Le Yéti

"Five Hundred Miles" from Inside Llewyn Davis makes me sad EVERY TIME.

Randee Neumeyer
Randee Neumeyer

If someone told me there was a cat in Inside Llewyn Davis I would have seen it in the cinema.

funeral
funeral

Unpopular Opinion Tweet #3 Best OSTs 1. Inside Llewyn Davis 2. 500 Days Of Summer 3. Submarine 4. TPOBAW 5. Divergent? 6. A Lot Like Love

natusi bablidze
natusi bablidze

ლუინ დეივისის შიგნით — Inside Llewyn Davis ძმები კოენების 2013 წლის ფილმი. ფილმი აღწერს გამოგონილი... fb.me/3x5BJwvgP

Firoze Sethna
Firoze Sethna

Just LOVE the way Justin Timberlake has sung and composed his version of Five Hundred Miles. Inside Llewyn Davis OST > O Brother WAT!m

Isaac
Isaac

Absolutely loving the soundtrack from inside Llewyn Davis at the moment. If you haven't heard it it's so worth a listen

 

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