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

 
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93370 comments
#1 dog
#1 dog

i think the supreme Boy is oscar isaac in inside llewyn davis tbh bc...wow...............

Arcady Téllez Peña
Arcady Téllez Peña

Que horrible y deprimente pelicula la de Inside Llewyn Davis, creo que lo único rescatable es el gato.

Jessie Baxter
Jessie Baxter

@celexo Ah! Well I think Inside Llewyn Davis, Wedding Crashers, High Fidelity, 500 Days of Summer, and A Knight's Tale all have great ones!

Helen McClory
Helen McClory

@temalone I saw that in the cinema. Enjoyed it. Another good winter one is Inside Llewyn Davis, though not v sweet at all.

Melanie Roberts
Melanie Roberts

The soundtrack to Inside Llewyn Davis is so beautiful and amazing I'm in another world right meow ❤️🎶❤️

DBCenterForTheArts
DBCenterForTheArts

Art Cinema TONIGHT, 7:30 pm, Crest Theatre. Film is Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis." $5 admission at the door with code: DDA.

Faruk Songur
Faruk Songur

@cambeltwt valla birkaç dal dışında gayet beğendim. Inside Llewyn Davis'in görülmeye ihtiyacı vardı :P

Larry Fitzmaurice
Larry Fitzmaurice

My favorite movie of 2013 has switched back from Her to Inside Llewyn Davis again. Just thought all of you should know

david
david

@AirForceSwann Petite question bete qui n'a rien à voir,mais j'me demandais juste si tu avais vu les films"inside Llewyn Davis"et"Sugar man"

Loser Bar
Loser Bar

Just saw Inside Llewyn Davis, it was gross

luis reséndiz
luis reséndiz

en 'la palabra y el hombre', revista de la universidad veracruzana, salió algo mío sobre 'inside llewyn davis'. acá: bit.ly/1w95kUg

Jess O'Neill
Jess O'Neill

O'Neill family verdict on Inside Llewyn Davis....both parents asleep, only me awake

Huey
Huey

It has taken me until ten minutes into watching Inside Llewyn Davis to realise it wasn't called Inside Llewellyn Davis.

takashi.h
takashi.h

"Inside Llewyn Davis"、"Jersey Boys"、"20 Feet from the Stardom"が公開された今年は、地味に音楽映画の当たり年かも。古い世代の音楽は映画などのきっかけがないと積極的に聞く機会がないので、ありがたいことだと思う。

SNTRY
SNTRY

Inside llewyn davis would have been a lot better if it took place in modern day and if he made generic trap instead of folk music

Gino
Gino

@EOTR great film list released, starting Thursday at 6pm; Inside Llewyn Davis

DTN Dubai
DTN Dubai

DTN Dubai: Review: Inside Llewyn Davis: Despite what he goes through Llewyn gets what he deserves bit.ly/1uURJhM

Eric Chavoya
Eric Chavoya

just sitting here listening to inside llewyn davis soundtrack

near
near

ฟ้าแก้มโต เรื่องราวของศิลปินตกอับที่พยายามกลับมารุ่ง ได้แรงบันดาลใจจาก Inside Llewyn Davis เพลงเพราะมาก youtu.be/BWv8_g0GwOg

Chase
Chase

@TheKatyBug Have you watched the movie in which that song you posted the link to a while back was featured..."Inside Llewyn Davis"?

Kim
Kim

I'm so excited. I ordered "Inside Llewyn Davis" almost a month ago and shipped it to the wrong address. I get to pick it up Thursday!

Doug
Doug

@CDromey19 inside Llewyn Davis o brother where art thou Garden State and Donnie Dario

 

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