Inside Llewyn Davis review


“If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song”

One of the first lines in the Coen Brothers’ exceptional new film helps to set up this incredibly smartly structured story of a folk singer in 1960s Greenwich Village who is striving for success within his creative field. He doesn’t want to just “exist”.

Hopping from one couch to another of those friends that he hasn’t yet burnt bridges with – and even, it seems, some that he has – Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) comes across as selfish, sad, desperate and even almost emotionally blank at times, but he is at the same time one of the most compelling and engaging characters that the Coens have every written. Which is certainly saying something, when one looks back at their rich filmography.

The fascinating character that the Coens have created here on the page is superbly embodied by Oscar Isaac, whose sad eyes convey a great deal in many of the film’s quieter moments.

Despite the foot-tapping and excellent musical performances from the cast and the punctuations of laugh out loud comedy, the subtlety with which the Coen Brothers handle some of the film’s deeper plot points is the real trick up their sleeve here.

Plot threads hang throughout and many are still left blowing in the wind as the credits roll but Llewyn’s story continues, or maybe it just starts again. It was never new to begin with, after all.

This review was originally posted at Bleeding Cool.