<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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79926 comments
Events+Entertainment
Events+Entertainment

Check out "Inside Llewyn Davis" tonight at the Texas Union Theatre! Two free showings at 6 and 9 PM.

B.S. Heckler
B.S. Heckler

@RonWechsler: Watched Inside Llewyn Davis on plane. My goodness what a miserable film. How was that nominated for Best Picture?”

Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar

"If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it's a folk song." — watching Inside Llewyn Davis

Fragmania
Fragmania

Inside Llewyn Davis Vizyon Tarihi: 17 Ocak 2014 Filmin Türü: Dram, Müzikal Yılı: 2013 Süre: 104 dakika fb.me/14guEgX3r

Alina
Alina

The soundtrack for Inside Llewyn Davis is so great

Jimmy
Jimmy

If I ask Siri to "Play me something from Inside Llewyn Davis" will she understand that that it's a quote from the movie and also play a song

Movie Marketing電影市場學
Movie Marketing電影市場學

【復活假期有得揀】 高安兄弟 編導《知音夢裡行》(Inside Llewyn Davis) ★榮獲奧斯卡最佳攝影、最佳混音提名★ 獨攬美國國家電影評論學會四項大獎 最佳電影、最佳導演、最佳男主角、最佳攝影... fb.me/6F8QR7rYd

Dok
Dok

@TyleKurner I think INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS is a monkey's paw of that bit in SHAME where he says he wishes he was a folk singer in the 60s.

Chris Knight
Chris Knight

Just re-watched Inside Llewyn Davis in honour of week. It's still a sublime, amazing ride. Bonus: Great cat!

Joseph Salomone
Joseph Salomone

My top ten fwi is 1.Scott Pilgrim 2.GoodFellas 3.Django Unchained 4.Hot Fuzz 5.Shawshank Redemption 6.Inside LLewyn Davis 7. The Dark Knigh

Tom Smith
Tom Smith

Inside Llewyn Davis...a rather brilliant film with a simple story, fantastic soundtrack and some beautifully cold atmospheric cinematography

Kirsty Cunningham
Kirsty Cunningham

Inside Llewyn Davis is set in NYC, looks beautiful and Timberlake is in it. Promising so far.

relativt fantastisk
relativt fantastisk

Inside Llewyn Davis. Go see! Moralen må vel være å ta godt vare på de sanne vennene sine. Og katten. Alltid.

Pablo
Pablo

Tengo tantos deseos de ver Inside Llewyn Davis...

عزيزك
عزيزك

Inside Llewyn Davis أسبوع في حياة مغني الذي يجوب الساحة الموسيقية في نيويورك ستينات القرن الماضي. pic.twitter.com/ma7jXvHmMY

scum
scum

Noah Gundersen damakta Inside Llewyn Davis tadı bırakıyor.

LaGGiù
LaGGiù

Che ne penso del film Inside Llewyn Davis? So solo che mi sono dovuta trattenere dall'applaudire ogni volta che finiva di suonare.

FazMuz
FazMuz

T Bone Burnett not only knows how to score a Cohen Brothers film. Still amazed with production on Inside Llewyn Davis OST

kell
kell

they said "inside llewyn davis" was supposed to be good. but here I am, outside llewyn davis, unimpressed.

Natalie
Natalie

@helloyelsel yeah good cinematography is not just about the color palette, Inside Llewyn Davis has the most astonishing cinematography

 

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