Review Roundup: INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS -Out of the Box or on the Surface?
Inside Llewyn Davis follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961 Llewyn Davis (Oscar Issac) is at a crossroads. Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles-some of them of his own making. Living at the mercy of both friends and strangers, scaring up what work he can find, Llewyn's misadventures take him from the baskethouses of the Village to an empty Chicago club-on an odyssey to audition for a music mogul-and back again.Brimming with music performed by Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan (as Llewyn's married Village friends), as well as Marcus Mumford and Punch Brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis-in the tradition of O Brother, Where Art Thou?-is infused with the transportive sound of another time and place. An epic on an intimate scale, it represents the Coen Brothers' fourth collaboration with multiple-Grammy® and Academy Award®-winning music producer T Bone Burnett. Marcus Mumford is associate music producer. (CBS Films)
Let's see what the critics have to say...
David Thomson, The New Republic: "Inside Llewyn Davis feels to me like a picture in which the brothers never got in such a hole they had to find a way of believing in their own material. It has a shrugging, routine moodiness. It never bites in the way, in No Country for Old Men, Bardem's Chigurh is a match for the devil and Tommy Lee Jones becomes the spirit of every disenchanted lawman in American cinema. The Coens are master storytellers even when they are doing junk. "
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: "Though Davis clearly has the karma of someone who couldn't catch a break with both hands, "Inside" also reveals him to be a genuine artist willing to stoically suffer the cards dealt him if that's necessary to preserve his creative integrity. It's the film's empathy with him, its sympathy with the plight of artists in general, that makes "Inside" an unexpectedly emotional piece."
Scott Foundas, Variety: "Yet for all the pain in Inside Llewyn Davis, there is also abundant joy - the joy of the music itself, exquisitely arranged by T Bone Burnett and sung live on set by the actors themselves. Both dramatically and musically, the film excels at depicting the many varied styles that wound up grouped under the folk umbrella - from corny, Kingston Trio-esque harmonists to protest singers like Pete Seeger and self-proclaimed "neo-ethnics" such as Van Ronk. In keeping with the Coens' interest in matters of Jewish cultural identity, the pic also touches - but never dwells - on the folk scene's abiding spirit of self-reinvention, which allowed a Jewish doctor's son from Queens to become the singing cowboy Ramblin' Jack Elliott (a model for the movie's Al Cody, played by Adam Driver)."
Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter: "But the work's core and most brilliant filmmaking, as stunning and singular as anything in the Coens' canon, is embodied in what initially feels like a tangent that, among other things, can be viewed as a deadpan satire on the whole "on the road" ethos of the period, right down to the casting of Dean Moriarty himself, Garrett Hedlund, as the mostly mute driver on a hitchhiking trip Llewyn makes to Chicago. With John Goodman's sarcastic raconteur Roland Turner splayed across the back seat like a malignant combination of Henry VIII and Orson Welles in Touch of Evil, the trip proceeds into a surrealistic twilight zone. Although not decisive, the trip does present the artist with a defining moment the viewer is free to ignore or accept as the truth about what's "inside" Llewyn Davis."