Inside Llewyn Davis, whilst proving almost impossible for me to pronounce, is one of the best scripted films of this year’s London Film Festival, and one of the best overall. Written and directed by the Coen brothers, it follows folk musician Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) as he navigates a week of his life. Apparently homeless, he spends nights on various sofas and trying to scrape a living playing the occasional gig at a Greenwich Village bar. Whilst he’s still mourning the loss of his old partner, with whom he had a decent career, he is self-absorbed and shameless in his asking for help from friends and family.
In typical Coen brothers style, this is all at once very funny and quite sad with a razor sharp script and a group of excellent characters, including the best cat in cinema. Carey Mulligan, an actress who never fails to drive me up the wall, is actually brilliant as the grumpy and sarcastic Jean who is married to Jim (Justin Timberlake). She spends her time swearing at Llewyn whilst looking at him with a sort of affectionate disdain, and singing with Jim and their dopey friend. Justin Timberlake, who has less screen time than the cat, is still proving himself to be a competent actor. His role is small but he plays it well, despite being overshadowed massively by Adam Driver in a session scene when they records a song with Llewyn. This is one of my favourite scenes I’ve seen this year. It’s hilarious and Al Cody (Driver) well and truly steals the show with his special brand of musical contribution. The soundtrack to Inside Llewyn Davis is absolutely gorgeous, with help from Marcus of Mumford & Sons. It helps that all singing cast members have lovely voices, and Oscar Isaac’s is a standout. Every song on this soundtrack is wonderful. Highlights include the song sung by Llewyn at the beginning and end of the film, and the one Jim and Jean sing with their friend.
This is wonderful filmmaking from a very talented duo. It brings a gigantic smile to your face and I left desperately wanting a cat. Oscar Isaacs gives a standout performance, both vocally and acting wise and the other cast members are all excellent as well. I could watch Inside Llewyn Davis over and over. It’s a truly excellent film in every way. The Coen brothers have given us a film that is basically flawless and a definite must see. It’s heartwarming and occasionally heartbreaking. My only complaint is the soundtrack hasn’t been released yet and I have to wait until January to see it again.
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman
Runtime: 105 min