Ang’s review published on Letterboxd:
Joel and Ethan Coen have always had this fascination of telling the story of life's darker side. Great opportunities that come with bad side effects. It's life's bleak turn of events for the protagonists in their films that bring this depressing magnetism. This peek into the mind of someone's life who's outlook on life is hopeless and grim. Llewyn Davies personifies this bleak nature in full glory.
A struggling musician trying to make a name for himself in the 60's New York folk scene, Llewyn does what every desperate musician hoping for a clean break has to do. Play small bars, sleep on couches, travel to auditions only to be rejected, wonder wether you're doing the right thing chasing a fragile dream and then do it all over again. It's something I've done and many more before me have done, but only few have made something of. It's rings with stark poignancy, so much so, that when those utterly beautiful songs came pouring from Llewyns soul, it brought tears to my eyes. Listening to Hang Me while writing this, the song that opened the movie, immediately brought forth the same emotions I had during the screening.
Like the Coen's other films, Inside Llewyn Davies broods with laid back pacing that seems like it may never get to where you're hoping it does at first, but the reality of it is, your eyes are never able to leave the events unfolding before you. Although long time collaborator and legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins wasn't able to lend himself this time around, second time collaborator and very capable Bruno Delbonnel stepped in, capturing each moment , especially the music performances, in a strikingly bleak, yet most beautiful way.
Oscar Issacs is undoubtedly a true natural, capturing the very essence of his character in an effortless performance certainly oscar worthy (no pun) The rest of the cast, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver, Stark Sands and John Goodman are all on point and breathe life into the Llewyn's depressing world. It's a top grade performance by the entire cast and crew.
It's a rare thing these days to come across films with such authenticity and substance to the point where you have to wonder if it's a biopic. Masterfully written and effortlessly shot, a classic that surely stands to be remembered for many years to come as one of the understated greats.