Inside Llewyn Davis Movie Review
Joel and Ethan Coen made another movie, in case you weren't paying attention. A drama-sort-of-comedy about a struggling folk singer in New York City, Inside Llewyn Davis lacks much of the quirk commonly attributed with the Coen brothers, but it thankfully shares a more important trait: high quality.
Inside Llewyn Davis is not for everyone. Its subtle storytelling approach and rather listless plot won't appeal to some people. The protagonist, played by Oscar Isaac, is not a man most rally around, and a movie about a few days of his life doesn't exactly scream "riveting." I'm still not entirely sure why the Coens were compelled to make this movie.
But Inside Llewyn Davis is a really good movie, perhaps even one of the best of the year. Once it takes hold - and it takes hold early - it doesn't let go. Thanks in part to some haunting folk songs that linger with you long after they are over, the movie is deeply engrossing and occasionally intoxicating. The film's plot may not be significant, but that is secondary to what the Coen brothers have assembled.
The craftsmanship is simply outstanding. The nuanced characters, the composition of each scene, the way that each scene bleeds and blends into the next... the synergy is perfect. Though the movie isn't my favorite Coen brothers production, it quite possibly represents their most flawless work. Given their resume, that's saying something.
Oscar Isaac, in one of his first major leading roles, keeps pace with the Coens at every step. He is fantastic and delivers a nuanced performance that makes him accessible despite his characters' many flaws. Carey Mulligan is also great in the film's only significant supporting role.
Inside Llewyn Davis isn't the Coen brothers' most memorable movie, nor is it their most entertaining, but it is an extremely well made and engaging drama that showcases just how good the filmmaking duo really is.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.