Inside Llewyn Davis starts off at the Gaslight Cafe, 1961, where Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) sings “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me”.
From there, we follow a week in the life of this struggling folk singer, continuing with him getting punched in the face by a mysterious man in the alley after the gig, and then waking up and leaving a flat owned by his friends, Mitch and Lillian Gorfein (Ethan Phillips and Robin Bartlett). Unfortunately, their ginger cat just skips out as the door closes, and he’s forced to carry it about – surely not an envious prospect when he has to take the subway, as it’s not the place you want to be trying to hold onto an animal which, all to often, has a mind of its own.
He also stays over with folk-singing duo Jim and Jean (Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan), the former completely unaware that she and Davis share a history. Our titular hero is a drifter who also drifts through other people’s lives, including Roland Turner (John Goodman), as a man who’s constantly looking rather listless, for reasons which will become clear in due course. Davis is also forever trying to get to the Gate of Horn club, hosted by Bud Grossman (F. Murray Abraham).
Inside Llewyn Davis is a comfortable and satisfying movie, like putting on an old pair of slippers. It’s also a road movie, so you shouldn’t expect every last thing to make sense. There’s always some oddities in a Coen Brothers film, one of my favourites in this being the ridiculously tight apartment block corridors that certainly wouldn’t pass building regulations today, in the light of ‘health and safety’.
Shot in soft focus tones, and lit so well, especially with bright lights indoors and dark scenes outside, the locations in this film are ones I just want to jump right in and enjoy them for myself. I don’t know a great amount about folk music, either, but this film grabbed me from the start and carried me through with it. The musical numbers will have you tapping along in no time.
I still don’t get Justin Timberlake as an actor, but Inside Llewyn Davis is an intriguing film which draws you in for its duration. And any film starring Carey Mulligan is always worth a watch. Well, except for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, which was terrible, and a failure as a sequel.
And when it comes to a film’s duration, I’ve always thought the perfect length for a movie is 105 minutes, and this one clocks in at exactly that.
Go to page 2 for the film’s presentation and extras.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.