There’s wonderful music in this film — I knew from the first notes of guitar music opening the movie, that I was hooked.
This movie managed to keep me interested throughout. And there were many reasons it might have lost my interest. There’s not really a plot here, just several days in the life of a struggling musician in a long-gone New York. The characters — most of whom are unlikable — don’t change. It’s a very dark movie, too; just when you think there is hope for success, or when you try to find the redeeming quality of some of these characters — the movie throws that back in your face.
So there is no looking for a feel-good experience here. But I liked the movie anyway, because of the music.
Inside Llewyn Davis is a Coen brothers movie that follows the main character (played by Oscar Isaac in an outstanding performance) as he struggles to survive in a 1960s New York that is the scene for a renewal of acoustic folk music. The setting feels real. The story is based loosely on the memoir of Dave van Ronk, and reflects a time when musicians lived day-to-day, with no safety net and little chance of success.
But the music is a character in itself. It feels real, too. The musical director is T Bone Burnett, who also won a Grammy award for the soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou. All the music was recorded live by the actors, and it’s excellent. Oscar Isaac’s musical performance, in particular, is amazing.