Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coen brothers are geniuses (genii?) who knew there was a movie star lurking out there, tragically overlooked. Their Oscar-winning music arranger T-Bone Burnett ("O Brother, Where Art Thou?") was a sure- fire gold-plated winner. With numerous nominations and wins for this film at festivals in Europe, and the Gran Prix (Audience Award) at Cannes under their belt, it was time to bring this baby home. And what have they done with all this bounty? They consigned Garrett Hedlund to a bit part as a chain-smoking driver! I was soooo looking forward to hearing this gifted guy sing again. To me, HE is the one tragically overlooked. Aarghhh!

The story is a week in the life of a folk singer striving for a breakthrough in 1961 Greenwich Village, at a time when folk music is in decline.

The cast:
  • Oscar Isaac ("Won't Back Down") is the Coen's "discovery." This fellow has worked third-tier roles for years. If he is just learning to sing and play guitar, why learn to do it with his eyes closed? I find it mannered and annoying!
  • Carey Mulligan ("Never Let Me Go") is the lovely singer every- one wants (and gets!).
  • John Goodman ("Trouble With the Curve") is a jazz musician who derides folk music while nurturing his own demons.
  • Garrett Hedlund ("Country Strong") is totally, utterly wasted here. There must be more to this choice than I have been able to find. This talented singer/actor could easily have replaced any of the other singers in this cast!
  • Justin Timberlake ("Runner Runner") is here for two songs and does them well. If only the rest of the film had such entertaining music.
  • Stark Sands (Lots of TV) impressed me with his sweet ingenuous character. A Tony-nominated performer ("Kinky Boots" and "Journey's End"), he has been in musicals since high school.
This R-rated drama/musical has lots of profanity, discussions about abortions, adult language and an irritating "hero" who is adrift. T-Bone Burnett mounts the music with his usual verve and uncanny ear, but... sigh....  I hesitate to disclose what little story there is, because anything I say would be a spoiler.

Oh well, the 60s are nicely re-imagined: the vintage cars, the S&H Green Stamps, the clothes and the furniture. See? I can find things that I like. Oh! ...and the cat! (Which the Coens admitted they put in because there wasn't much story.)
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Here is a sample:
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