Inside Llewyn Davis

review-llewyndavisIF your first thought on seeing the poster for Inside Llewyn Davis is “Bob Dylan, Freewheelin” then this latest from the Coen brothers is for you.

Set in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s, on the eve of the folk music explosion that launched the careers of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and many more, it is in part inspired by the story of real-life folk singer and musician Dave van Ronk.

It is the story of Llewyn Davis, a guitarist and singer of undoubted talent and uncompromising bloodymindedness. If he can get something wrong with people who are trying to help him, Llewyn will.

It is hard to feel sympathy with him, because he is so selfish, but he wants to make his way on his own terms, as an authentic talent, not someone who will bow and change his style, appearance and even the cut of his beard to satisfy cynical music producers and promoters.

There are a lot of laughs in this film – and the more you know about the 60s folk scene the more you will enjoy them.

It is full of brilliant visual and musical references. The performances, including John Goodman as a gross old jazzman of appalling habits, Carey Mulligan as a winsome folk singer and Justin Timberlake as her clean-cut singer-husband, are first rate.  And the sequences of snow driving capture exactly the surreal terror and beauty.

Oscar Isaac is convincing, grumpy, barely smiling and yet oddly engaging as Llewyn. You know he will never make it big, but you have to admire his grit.

The music is consistently wonderful, chosen with great care and echoing the sound-track of our lives for those who have always loved the music that came out of Greenwich Village at that time.

And no cats were hurt in the making of this film! (The ginger cat is very long-suffering!)

Highly recommended.


Inside Llewyn Davis is in cinemas around the region now.

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