• James Rutherford

'Inside Llewyn Davis': A Wry Dark Comedy About the Greenwich Village Folk Scene Circa 1961


Movie poster for the film Inside Llewyn Davis starring Oscar Isaac

The Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013) is wryly humorous depiction of a week-in-the-life of a struggling singer/songwriter named Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) as he performs, hustles, scraps and bumbles his way through the New York City folk scene circa 1961.


Isaac is pitch-perfect as the dour, sardonic Davis whose only true means of expression comes through his music, as life repeatedly batters and bruises him in his steadfast pursuit of success. An unexpected pregnancy sets the storyline in motion, as Davis scrambles to earn the funds necessary to resolve the matter—clambering about town and ultimately off on a memorable road trip to Chicago. Meanwhile his responsibility for a friend’s lost cat consistently bedevils him to his ongoing exasperation—a subplot that delivers a particularly humorous undercurrent to the proceedings.


Overall the film is replete with dry humor, whimsy and bittersweet angst, featuring the Coen's typically self-assured storytelling while emulating an alluring place-in-time aura. It’s quintessential Coen Brothers in its cheekiness and irony-laced escapades, featuring unique characterizations and unexpected plot developments. It all culminates in an oddly satisfying resolution that brings the plot full circle, circumscribing a lively slice-of-life and delivering a boisterous ode to the indulgences of yesteryear.

 

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