The Coen Brothers have made films raging from dark-comedy works to Westerns—yet they all have a distinctive, specific Coen Brothers feel. Their latest, Inside Llewyn Davis, is loosely based on Dave Von Ronk, a Greenwich Village folk singer who tried—and failed—to captivate audiences in the early ‘60s.
The story begins in a café. After performing, Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is told by the owner that a “friend” is waiting for him outside. When he steps outside, he’s beaten up by a stranger. The struggling musician—his new record isn’t selling—sleeps on the couches of his friends, and he’s trying to come to terms with the suicide of a former collaborator and friend. He ponders returning to the Merchant Marines.
Inside Llewyn Davis has some of the dark humor typical in a Coen Brothers film, and the comedy relief is always perfectly timed to break the moments of intense heartbreak you feel for the struggling Llewyn.
The musical performances also make the film worthwhile. Isaac’s work is fantastic. (He performs solo and as a trio with Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver.) Other music performances come from the likes of Nancy Blake and Declan Bennett. The soundtrack for Inside Llewyn Davis is indeed worth remembering.
The Coen Brothers can do no wrong, it seems, when it comes to making good films that separate themselves from previous efforts. There is no doubt that this one is going to bring home some awards; in fact, the nominations have already been pouring in.
Inside Llewyn Davis is now playing at the Camelot Theatres (2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs; 760-325-6565) and the Cinémas Palme d’Or (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-779-0430).