Inside Llewyn Davis     
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Who’s in it? Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman

What’s it about? Winner of last year’s Grand Prix at Cannes, the Coen brothers’ latest takes an introspective look at the soul of the contemporary singer/songwriter, reflecting a universal awareness of potential unfulfilled; that nagging sense that we could finally do what we’re meant to if only we could catch a break. A sort of O Blues Brother, Where Art Thou? type journey that doesn’t necessarily go anywhere in particular but encourages you to appreciate it all the same. Llewyn – apparently inspired, at least in part, by the memoirs of 60s folk singer Dave Van Ronk, essentially the guy who wasn’t Bob Dylan – isn’t a particularly sympathetic character but that’s evidently part of his appeal. He’s the underdog’s underdog. Featuring cameos from Justin Timberlake and Marcus Mumford (Mumford and Sons), the film oozes the kind of poetic peculiarity you’d expect from the No Country For Old Men directors, in typically unsentimental fashion. 

Memorable Moments? When Llewyn’s girl friend (Carey Mulligan) informs him she’s pregnant and wonders if he ever thinks about the future, Isaac’s delightfully deadpan dead-beat responds: “You mean like flying cars?”.

Look who’s talking: ‘The film’s towering achievement is that it cuts through the haze of nostalgia while celebrating what made a certain place at a certain time special.’ – Crikey

Like that? Try this: O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), the Coens’ other noteworthy musical ensemble, stars George Clooney in a lyrical lament to Homer’s Odyssey, in which three convicted criminals escape the chain-gang in search of hidden treasure in the deep south and find fame as folk singers along the way.

Trivia Pursuit: Admitting the film “doesn’t really have a plot”, Joel Coen claimed that’s why they “threw the cat in” (the film features a ginger tabby) as Llewyn’s companion. 

Alert: contains some rough language and discussion of condoms. 

Ronan Wright writes from Belfast and blogs at Filmplicity

Ronan Wright is a graduate in Film Studies from The Queen’s University of Belfast. As well as contributing to MercatorNet as a film critic since March 2011 he has run Filmplicity, a Belfast-based film...