David Jenkins’s review published on Letterboxd:
After seeing the trailer a few months back I had a feeling I would like this film. The soundtrack and the rave reviews I kept seeing then hyped this one up for me and boy did it not disappoint. Between the acting, the soundtrack, the hidden symbolism and the cat there was a lot for me to love. There is even a nice little reference to Wales in there which is always welcome.
First off, Oscar Isaac is brilliant as the title character Llewyn. After seeing his performance I feel its a shame he has missed out on an Oscar nomination but it is such a strong year for that category. I suppose its much like our title character Llewyn a case of the right man at the wrong time who just didn't catch the break he deserves. The journey we follow has its ups and downs and is as much an emotional ride for us the viewer as it is for Llewyn. I found myself invested in this guy's struggles and could feel his frustration every step of the way. Our hero subjects himself to a lot of self depreciation and you feel at times like the only thing holding him back from greatness is himself.
I've come to expect a certain level of brilliance from the Coen brothers and they have nailed it again here. The film is very well shot with its cold, grey tone of the lens adding effectively to Llewyn's journey of desperation and heartache. It is consistently beautiful, heartfelt and utterly enthralling. While the supporting cast are all great in their roles, I wasn't overly keen on Carey Mulligan here. I normally like her but there was just something off about this performance that I cant put my finger on.
On a more positive note however a special mention goes out to the soundtrack, which I found to be superb. Isaac and the rest of the cast deliver strong vocals and there is more than one or two memorable songs among the bunch. I found the opening and the closing performances from Isaac were particularly stirring and really struck a chord with me as a viewer. I'm also pretty sure 'Please Mr Kennedy' will be stuck in my head for days.
In summary this is another great film from the Coen brothers and it's brilliant soundtrack and leading man elevate it onto another level for me. It is one that on a second watch may very well move up to the elusive '5 star' rating. The more I think about it the more I fall in love with it.