Inside Llewyn Davis [REVIEW]

Isaac As Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis is a quiet, downbeat, different type of movie about a musician who can't get a break in his musical career or in his life.

Oscar Isaac excellently plays Davis, a talented folk singer/songwriter in 1960's Greenwich Village, who always seems to have a dark cloud over his head. Loosely based on a book by American folk singer Dave Van Ronk (Mayor of MacDougal Street) and directed and written by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis tells the simple tale of Davis as he tries to get through life with his guitar as his best friend.

Davis, who is practically homeless and will jump at the chance to take perform at any gig for money, lives from sofa to sofa, including one that belongs to his ex-girlfriend Jean (Carey Mulligan) and her new partner Jim (Justin Timberlake). Together on the music circuit, they are known as Jean and Jim. However, Jean informs Davis that she is pregnant, and that the kid could potentially be his.

In another apartment he sleeps in, he, along with the house cat, both get locked out, so he takes the cat, Ulysses, with him on the subway, to gigs, and to other people's apartments, including Jean's, where the cat slips out the window. His sister, who has loaned him lots of money, doesn't have much faith in his singing career. So in the quest to get some money and to get himself heard, he and the cat that may or may not be the cat that was lost hitch a ride to Chicago with musicians Johnny Five (Grant Hedlund) and Roland Turner (John Goodman) to meet a club owner who doesn't give much hope to Davis and his career. And such is the life of Davis. He returns back to New York only to face more bad luck, enough bad luck that he plans to abandon his music career and join the merchant marines.

Davis (who was previously seen in W.E. and Drive) is excellent in this role. He has won several film critics' awards for this film, including the National Society of Film Critics Awards for Best Actor. Sadly, he was not nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. More shocking is that the music for this film was ignored by the Academy. The true star of Inside Llewyn Davis is the music, a mix of old and original folk songs by the legendary T-Bone Burnett. The BAFTAs got it right: the film is nominated for Best Original Screenplay (deservedly so), Best Cinematography, and Best Sound (but shockingly again, nothing for its music). The film itself won the Grand Prixe at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Although in color, Inside Llewyn Davis has a smoky, hazy look about it, almost like a reflection of dark clouds over a man who goes from rags to rags with no riches. Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel perfectly captures this mood. Inside Llewyn Davis is one of the most memorable films you will see all year.