In typical Coen Brothers' fashion, "Inside Llewyn Davis" is marked by quirky characters coming and going. This leads to a disjointed experiece because we drop in on people's lives, and in some cases, don't ever find out what happens to them. Yet, the crossroads is an interesting journey.
The patchwork film takes place during a week in the stalled life of a struggling folk singer at a seminal time in music history. It's 1961 and the Greenwich Village folk scene is bustling.
Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) isn't a likable character, but you feel for his predictament as winter rages. He's dependent on friends for couch-surfing and jobs, and his odd odyssey is amusing but also heartbreaking.
With John Goodman as a drugged-out jazz musician, Justin Timberlake as an earnest folksie, Carey Mulligan as a shrew with an angelic voice, and F. Murray Abraham as an astute impresario, you expect much more. Their performances are memorable -- just not long enough. Isaac is convincing as the guy who can't catch a break -- but it is often his own fault.
The soundtrack captures this time and place superbly, and the look of the film is terrific.
What Doesn't Work
Not enough happens to make it a satisfying movie experience, yet it has some moments that linger. Perhaps it is a deeper experience the second time around.
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, F. Murray Abraham, Justin Timberlake
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen