<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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92278 comments
Ryan Davis Ebooks
Ryan Davis Ebooks

How the snubbing of Inside Llewyn Davis proves its point are forgetting 9/11.

Interferon beta male
Interferon beta male

People are getting bombed and here's me comparing the little things in my life to events in Inside LLewyn Davis

TamHDFilm
TamHDFilm

Coen Kardeşlerin Son filmi Inside Llewyn Davis HD olarak linkten izleyebilirsiniz. goo.gl/yjJNi2

Leandro Querido
Leandro Querido

Si le faltaba algo para ser un peliculón era hacer una referencia al Tango. Inside Llewyn Davis de los Hermanos Cohen, no pretendo mucho más

Logan Deck
Logan Deck

Inside Llewyn Davis is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. 94% on rotten tomatoes. Now I know I can't always trust them.

Ryan.
Ryan.

Inside Llewyn Davis was even better the second time round

Ms Thea Newcomb
Ms Thea Newcomb

Double header chez moi just now - 'Nebraska' & 'Inside Llewyn Davis'. Yep finally catching these Oscar nominated films.

Jimmy Jazz
Jimmy Jazz

Voy a ver Inside Llewyn Davis, otra vez Quiero un epitafio bonito

Alejandro Basave
Alejandro Basave

3 películas para el fin de semana: Inside Llewyn Davis (Drama, 2013), Eden Lake (Suspenso, 2008) y Kumare (Documental, 2011).

David Hibbert
David Hibbert

Inside Llewyn Davis is a film to get lost in. Brutally uncompromising but fiercely empathetic. A wonder.

Dan Crawshaw
Dan Crawshaw

just saw inside llewyn davis and it was brilliant but also prolly the most depressing movie experience i've ever had

Brianna Cooper
Brianna Cooper

Between Oscar Isaac's dreamy brown eyes, and @jtimberlake's voice, I think I've found a new love "Inside Llewyn Davis." Inside. Get it?

Antonie Fountain
Antonie Fountain

'Inside Llewyn Davis'; intensely painful to watch as a former/failed musician. "Enough talent to hope he makes it, but not enough to do it."

Sina Bahram
Sina Bahram

Wow, talk about classics today. Now onto "Inside Llewyn Davis". Obviously the music is good on this one too.

krut
krut

Inside Llewyn Davis has such a good soundtrack. Oscar Isaac's voice is a beauty.

Thego
Thego

filmes pendentes: Inside Llewyn Davis e O Plano Perfeito.

Karim Skalli
Karim Skalli

Can't get enough of Inside Llewyn Davis, such a brilliant film!

Sir Nilsson
Sir Nilsson

Inside Llewyn Davis, great movie with an even greater soundtrack.

J's_Soul
J's_Soul

@FilmSamurai Thing is:I don't get what people didn't get about Inside Llewyn Davis.Simple story beautifully executed. One of the best Coens.

J's_Soul
J's_Soul

Well I finally watched Inside Llewyn Davis & I ended up with a silly smile on my face. Which is good. Very good.

Ankit Sharma
Ankit Sharma

There is something about “Inside Llewyn Davis” soundtrack that I can’t get enough of it. Or maybe its Oscar Issac’s voice. Or both.

Tom Buxton
Tom Buxton

@GameDesignDan I'd certainly sooner see 'The Winter Soldier', 'The LEGO Movie', 'Inside Llewyn Davis' or 'Dawn of the...' again. Each of...

Nick Parco
Nick Parco

@hach_tag Could you believe Almost Famous was never No.1? Also, Inside Llewyn Davis

J's_Soul
J's_Soul

Absolutely lovin' the opening scene of Inside Llewyn Davis @FilmSamurai Oscar Isaac singing. It's already enough for me.

Rosie Haghighi
Rosie Haghighi

They're playing the Inside Llewyn Davis ost before the film, too. Glorious.

James Knight
James Knight

@tmibugbee Mulholland Dr., Boyhood, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Squid and the Whale, 4 months 3 weeks 2 days, Savages, The Great Beauty

Todd S. Gallows
Todd S. Gallows

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Call me shallow, but the abundance of folk music ruined it for me. Its modern day Coen Bros. formula didn't help. 5/10

 

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