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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91967 comments
Dani
Dani

whats up w?these dudes from Girls randomly being in inside llewyn davis

David Maldonado
David Maldonado

Por fin pude ver Inside Llewyn Davis y la disfruté. Excelente película, en mi top 5 de las películas de los Coen.

Famamfa Supertramp
Famamfa Supertramp

Today I've seen High Fidelity and Inside Llewyn Davis so I guess I could do one more music-themed film...

Abbey D.
Abbey D.

Been listening to (most of) Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack for about 3 days straight. Fun fact: I would prob see anything Oscar Isaac is in.

Moonunit & Dweezil
Moonunit & Dweezil

I've watched Inside Llewyn Davis multiple times within a 48 hour time span and I have no regrets.

Jad Bean
Jad Bean

(2/2) ... I would have said, "That's great, but what about 'Inside Llewyn Davis', does it get snubbed at the Oscars?"

Adrian Nguyen
Adrian Nguyen

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013): proof that this movie is in fact finely crafted from a rewatch.

Kirsten
Kirsten

I really love the Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack but it makes you contemplate some sad stuff. Not always what you want, you know?

Mr McGarnical
Mr McGarnical

Finished watching Inside Llewyn Davis Excuse me, I think I’ll just go sit in the car with the engine running for a while

K.Ahn
K.Ahn

Inside Llewyn Davis (Ethan&Joel Coen, 2014) 편집이 마음에 든다. 특히 르윈의 시점 쇼ㅌ로 넘어가는 부분들. 첫 씬과 마지막씬이 깉은 것은, 마음대로 되지 않아도 삶은 지속적으로 되풀이 된다? 혹은 호접지몽?

maddie
maddie

inside llewyn davis is REALLY HARD TO COLOR

Hillari Loanda
Hillari Loanda

Going to watch "Moon", "The Road to El Dorado" and "Inside Llewyn Davis" you can guess wich was the one I picked

Olivia Moonitz
Olivia Moonitz

"Inside Llewyn Davis" ...huh? (It's quite good but confusing and a bit sad)

Jessica Christian
Jessica Christian

Watching Inside Llewyn Davis because I'm a masochist I guess

Citizen Kane Bot
Citizen Kane Bot

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is the Inside Llewyn Davis of games.

AHoyeHoye
AHoyeHoye

Finally getting the chance to sit and watch Inside Llewyn Davis.

rachel murphy
rachel murphy

If you haven't Inside Llewyn Davis & you give any shits about music then you should see it.

Rocket
Rocket

Al final nada de Mad Max. Compré Inside Llewyn Davis. ^^

Ben Cohen
Ben Cohen

I decided to wait until August to grow my Inside Llewyn Davis beard for Con season. HUMIDITY AND CITY HEAT ARE... fb.me/3ylx297PA

Adrienne
Adrienne

Inside Llewyn Davis is easily one of the best movies I've seen. Justin Timberlake, a cat, and some excellent music. 👌

Ashley
Ashley

@k99jones Aww Im smiling at the thought. Theyre perfect. How many times do you think he told her she did amazing job on Inside Llewyn Davis?

eru
eru

Inside Llewyn Davis

Lola Mendoza
Lola Mendoza

Como no nos basta con el laburo con la música de cada día, con @noriegalalo vemos Inside Llewyn Davis y cosas así. Mátennos.

Jesss
Jesss

Inside llewyn davis is such a beautiful film

lawrence
lawrence

Dallas buyers club is v good, inside llewyn davis is kinda shit imo

Matthew Thomas
Matthew Thomas

The Death of Queen Jane might be my favorite song on the Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack.

Amarissa
Amarissa

I'm glad that I can now confirm that the Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack sounds glorious on vinyl.

ashley
ashley

though at least 500 of my tweets must be about breaking bad or inside llewyn davis (i forget about how obsessed i was with the latter)

 

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