The latest offering from the Coen Brothers is probably their bleakest yet, at least upon first impression. We follow folk singer Llewyn Davis for three or four days at a crossroads in his career, as he decides whether or not to give up on music altogether. It’s cold, it’s damp, he’s got no money and no coat. His singing partner is gone and he’s running out of friends. Somehow, in this scenario, the Coens manage to find humour, angst and insight like never before.
Oscar Isaac is in his element here in his first starring role, but as with every film this probably needed more Carey Mulligan. She’s got such a unique way about her in films, you can’t stop watching her. She’s woefully underused here. John Goodman is continuing to prove that he’s capable of anything, and straddles the line beautifully between character actor and starring role. As with all Coen films the supporting cast are memorable and extraordinarily well chosen.
The soundtrack has drawn lots of attention and rightly so. The cold is often permeated by the warmth of Davis’ music, to great effect. He never has to explain why he’s a musician, we know instantly from the opening scene where he sings ‘Hang Me, Oh Hang Me’. Credit is also due to Isaac’s performance on this front, he’s so at home on stage, it has you waiting eagerly for the next song.
A small masterpiece that’ll probably only get better with time.