Cinema Review: Inside Llewyn Davis | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, February 27th, 2024  

Inside Llewyn Davis

Studio: CBS Films
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Dec 06, 2013 Issue #48 - November/December 2013 - HAIM
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Those familiar with Bob Dylan’s timeline know that the Minnesota singer/songwriter moved to New York at the beginning of 1961 and was performing in Greenwich Village by February of that year. Writers/directors Joel and Ethan Coen, also Minnesota natives, recreate this fascinating time and place in folk music’s history for their parallel story of the fictional Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a cantankerous, struggling New York folk singer with a beard and a Welsh first name.

Dreary, wintry, and infused with the Coens’ trademark dark humor, Inside Llewyn Davis chronicles a brief, days-long span in the singer’s adventurous vagabond life. Llewyn is too broke to afford a winter coat and spends his nights on the couches of various friends. He’s talented but stubbornly idealistic about music, resulting in a gloomy aura that pre-counterculture listeners find less appealing than the apple pie style of his ex-flame, Jean (Carey Mulligan), who sings in a duo with her husband, Jim (Justin Timberlake). She might be pregnant by Llewyn, and their bickering about his lifestyle and bleak future yields some of the film’s quickest-witted scenes.

The on screen music performances were done live by the actors, and the period folk songs that appear throughout the film—its strongest asset—were produced by T-Bone Burnett with assistance from Mulligan’s husband, Marcus Mumford.

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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